Massacre of the Innocents, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“Many changes have been introduced to attenuate the atrocity of the scene. 
The dead children have been replaced by trivial motifs – bundles of washing, 
animals and various utensils – and in this way, the biblical episode has been
metamorphosed into a village pillage scene. Details have been painted out, 
such as the scattered clothing of a dead baby that was lying on the knees of 
its mother in the snow.”
                   -“A Copy That Does Justice to its Model: the Massacre of 
                   the Innocents by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (Sibiu, Muzeul 
                   Naţional Brukenthal),” BRVKENTHAL ACTA MVSEI, VII.4, 
                   by Dominique Allart, Christina Currie & Steven Saverwyns

                                                           we call a clutch of roaches an intrusion

More termite than beetle, in passive voice 
They have been introduced, past chitin-red homes
Beneath which we plead: Kneeling, fingers laced 
In the presence of bread and bundles, saying 
Grace, in praise of the symbol softening 
The symbol, snowing us in, thickening in 
Analog whorls of the oaken grain, these
Marriage proposals in shattered Spanish,  

                                                           declare the nymphal stages incomplete

A crying husk that hibernates in ice, then bears 
Loaves of bread everlasting: Wine-stained shells 
Swapped for nondenominational lacewings 
Boring through chrysalides, angel skin littering 
Snow in half-hearted correction, on their own 
Transparency stealing, unblemished, away. Full 
To bursting, bounty on the mother’s knees.  
In passive voice they pass above our bundles,

                                                           And deem the insect’s final stage ideal

Descend on the meat and the bread and the
Imperfections in the snow, like eating through 
A veil, or nudity in art, the way we all subdue 
Desires: Lacquered barely pink under snow,
And how a massacre, once coating placid paths 
In wood, matured into trivial motifs, bloat
Of paint peeled from the oaken canvas, as the white, 
Impossible bridal train that is a cockroach birth. ∎