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Dane Lyn – holy musings at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2019

Dane Lyn’s “holy musings at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2019” is a brilliant work of ekphrastic poetry, inspired by a religious painting by an unknown artist, titled “The Great Harlot of Babylon”. Dane’s poem cuts into the misogyny and judgement inherent in many faiths, and in this particular instance–Christianity. The imagery of the joyous woman contrasted against the angels’ judgement is all the more striking with Dane’s clear language. Dane told The Dewdrop, “I find the most spiritual connections within the art of others and find the words come to me more when I am writing ekphrastic poetry.”

holy musings at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2019
(after “The Great Harlot of Babylon, unknown)

Amid the archaic parchments,
displayed in low light due to
the delicate nature of these, some of the earliest manuscripts
that have persevered,
something else that has endured.

And yes, how absolutely bizarre
a room full of really old Christian Bibles feels self-righteous,
but the weight of those pietistic eyes
all centered
on one small illustrated panel
in the corner of the room.

The angels cannot look in her direction,
lest they too are judged.
But there is no mistaking their condemnation,
if they had pearls,
they would be clutching them. Instead they
gasp and point,
avoid meeting
her eye.

They are so clearly
uncomfortable despite their
assurances of heaven
evidenced by their gilded halos and wings.
All their fine robes of
deep purples and greens don’t
comfort them either in the face of such

What is it that has even Angels trembling?
The face of God?
The suffering of humans?
it is none of these things, it is a woman’s
bare knees.

The placard below this panel states
that the “Whore of Babylon” was often depicted
in a short dress because
knees are sinful.
I cannot look away from
her knees,
which alone besides her face and hands
are bare. She wears
long tight sleeves,
unadorned colorless. Her loose shift dress shows
no curves and almost but not quite
meets her high boots.
But even with very
little color to her, and certainly none of the
gold-plated glory
reserved for the angels, it is she who
radiates joy.

An urn of some sort in her right hand,
her posture one of
celebratory dance,
leads me to believe it once held
wine or other inebriety liquid,
which now must have been
consumed because her
raucous stance has it tilted
anything left would have spilled.

Dane Lyn

Dane Lyn (they/them) is a queer, educator, poet, and glitter enthusiast with an MFA from Lindenwood University. Find them in Southern California with their partner, advocating for disabled rights, constructing blanket forts, caring for their menagerie of teens, snakes, lizards, dogs, rabbits, and cats, and ridding their shoes of beach sand. Dane’s work has been or will be featured in Gnashing Teeth, Silver Rose Magazine, Closed Eye Open, The Dillydoun Review and Nymph Publication. @punkhippypoet is where you will find them on Instagram and Twitter.

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