blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



The Black Madonna

"You're interested in me," she says,
jabbing thumb to chest. My legs
twitch, threaten to buckle
as if I were watching my house
swim into flame. She is black as
Our Lady of Czestochowa, old
as Mary taking leave of earth
at Ephesus. Hand to hip, impatient,
she taps her foot. She is waiting
for me to see the woods.

This madonna carries no baby, wears
no veil. In the crook of her arm
sways a cracked leather purse
hefty as a club. The print
of her dress climbs with
bearded irises and her eyes are
fierce and bloodshot—she's
had no sleep in days, or maybe she drinks.

I hold my ears,
but her voice burning through my hands
is a torch lighting up
the place of the skull.

She's telling the trees
everything: how I cling to what's in front of me
and keep missing the point,
like Francis when he hears a voice
Rebuild my church
carting all those stones.

The sun ascends over her shoulder
while she pretends to disappear.
I take my first gulp of wildflower air.
I am shaking like Jesus in the garden,
quivering to be passed over.  

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