Tracy K. Smith
the Gospel Book of Otto III, ca. 10th century
Shines forth from the vellum this film of sun,
the precious metal pounded thick as air,
then bound to the page with gesso or with glair—
more than one hundred leaves of gold from one
ducat. Otto, on the gold-leaf throne
which he commissioned—servant of Christ, ruler
of the world—surveys his gilded empire,
and the hand of God adjusts his crown.
O Christ, how I have loved you, with my heart shut
like an emperor’s fist or a golden door,
a Bible with its pages locked up tight.
In my poverty I sought a poor God to adore,
a love I could buy with my widow’s mite.
But this is not a Bible for the poor.