Michelangelo's David


unlike the other Davids, has not yet defeated Goliath, his sling limp over his shoulder. Though scholars write papers on the tension in his neck, the taut muscles, he always seemed to me unthreatened, his leg casually lifted, his right arm slack, his gaze off in the distance.
I'm so often admonished to tell the truth slant that I should know better than to accept the first viewpoint, yet I've only just discovered that to step to David's side, into his line of sight, the crook in his arm raises a muscle toward the enemy, the hand swung low clutches a weapon just out of sight, and war is in his white eyes.
The statue, chest out, now begs to be looked at from the angle he was placed in by the Accademia's curators, his abdomen lithe, his staggering perfection suggesting that he sends the warning look away, to a distant foe or city.
Because we think we see the truth but see it slant, we are quick to assume we are not the aggressors, we mean no harm, we do not wear the Philistines' armor, that we will never be felled simply by stones, that God has not yet chosen the instruments of our inevitable humiliation.

ROSS WHITE is the 2012 winner of the James Larkin Pearson prize from the Poetry Society of North Carolina. His poems have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Poetry Daily, Best New Poets 2012, and The Collagist. With Matthew Olzmann, he co-edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series. He has received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and teaches poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.