Reflections on La Scapigliata
by Lois P. Jones
     (The Girl with Disheveled Hair) by Leonardo da Vinci)


this face, a house of stars before the fall
Lorca’s round silence of night
one note on the stave
of the infinite
as if the head were a hermeneutic circle
that we may know the whole through our parts
the distance from chin to nose
and roots to eyebrows
in each of us the same
you can feel Leonardo’s brush above
the soft triangle of cheek
the light left below the eyes
rooms he admires but never enters
who knows what they have witnessed
pupils of a black moon
carry the codices of more
than one life
her thoughts cast toward
a world of inner frescoes

here is the spirit’s underpainting awash in a clear glaze
before a commitment to color and don’t think she is unaware
of her inner nudity     not as one would be
conscious of a body but the way a bolt
of silk rests
on the edge of a dune


She can’t stop looking in your direction. A horizon that never makes its way toward her. Her
face as a field, hash-marks of hay. Hair drawn from wild grasses. When daylight fell into this
small room of her, the body seemed remote. There is a falling of hands, the light through the
window making shapes until you leave.


If she stepped out of her face just once
the landscape would be white foxes
at twilight. Her hand
a frozen river, her mouth a creature
half locked in ice. When she looks
at you without eyes you see your entire history
as if it were the back of your head.
Winter is the god she returns to.


dis arrayed
let down,
the howl of human utterances
the hair
à part de ça
just as she is
just as I was
fresh from the ochre linens
feet padding on worn wood
leaving sunlight striped across the pillow

once I dreamed I awoke
in her body
it was me looking out
from the petite form
just the suggestion
of a swell below the neckline
like two koi coming up for air
I placed my palms on each gesture
this is what the mirror saw

Link to Visible Poetry Project collaboration:

La Scapigliata explores the relationship between the physical and metaphysical worlds
through an examination of Leonardo’s da Vinci’s representation of the free-spirited and
natural feminine in the Renaissance period. The visage as well as the unbound
“disheveled” hair of the model created a dialogue between the observer and the painting,
first as an ekphrastic exercise and later as a means to move through various points of
view within the poem. La Scapigliata’s denouement leaves the viewer to consider the
unbound journey of spirit as it cycles from one body and one time to another, one life to
the next.

Published in Night Ladder.

Click here to hear the recording of her poem on Vimeo

Return to:

[New] [Archives] [Join] [Contact Us] [Poetry in Motion] [Store] [Staff] [Guidelines]