Jonathan Stull

—After a painting by Han Gan, Eighth-century Tang Dynasty

In the gallery of his empty words,

A bride is awaiting her faithless groom.

In the painting she sees a horse, stamping

Inky hooves across an accusation

Of letters and excuses for her grief.

He groomed her upon a fading cliché,

When joy reached beyond the framing margins

And she abandons her gown of forever.


In the museum of his empty words,

The milk of its body is coloring

The reason for trembling beneath his stare.

She mounts the tailess spirit, free reining

The negative space of untethered night,

Its bruise, shining white in her ecstasy.


For more information and details about the painting, visit The MET's digital art collection by clicking here



JONATHAN STULL is a retired high school and university creative writing teacher. He has published in numerous magazine, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.