Michelangelo, Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
THE DISTANCE OF CREATION
I skipped my computer classes
The secretary shows a film of himself
going up the scaffold to watch restorers
apply ammonium bicarbonate to clean
the fresco scenes of Creation, and
we share his surge of awe seeing
those original flesh tones of God's
finger and Adam's, measuring with a ruler
the distance between them 3/4 of an inch.
And I've wondered about that fraction
the Trinity above the quaternary
of earth, 19 mm, 4.5 picas, 54 points,
checked tables of square & cube roots,
chapter & verse in Genesis, Psalms
and Plato's Timaeus that may have
inspired him, and I think I've got it
it's the digitus, a finger's breadth
used by the Romans as a measure equal
to 1/16 of the pes or 3/4 of an inch.
And the verb digit means to point
God creating Adam in his own image,
a point as the seed of manifestation.
Did the restorers remove those spiral whorls
they thought were dirt Michelangelo's
fingerprint pointing to the measureless?
Peter Y. Chou
Palo Alto, 10-24-1992
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