Cell 7: The Mocking of Christ

A weekly poem, read by the author.
April 2 2002 5:04 PM

Cell 7: The Mocking of Christ

from San Marco Suite—after Fra Angelico

To hear Angie Estes reading this poem, click here.

The pages of the book have turned
to stone and cracked, but Saint Dominic,
seated on the floor to the right, reads on
while Mary sits alone
on the left, bella cosa
beatified—not to be confused
with bellicose, inclined to start
quarrels or wars, like the bodiless hands
of the Roman soldiers, positioned
around the face of Christ.
the Greeks would call it, everything
in order like a chess game before
it begins, but no architecture
can be truly noble which is not
, Ruskin advised,
because it does not resemble
life—Venetian palazzos, gladioli—
one third in full bloom, one third
spent, and one third on
the way. Blindfolded
                                 above and behind
Mary and the Saint, Christ
is the apex of their triangle, check
of their mate, point
toward which everything
retreats—even the gaze
of Mary, although for now
it is turned away while she
touches her cheek to make
sure she is real.

Angie Estes is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Tryst, one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. 



Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.