The Burgundy Madonna

Lady, was there always this distance,
this gap of mutual love?

Mixing his colours with holy water,
crushed relics and prayers, was this
what the iconographer perceived
dipping his brush deep into his soul?

Sturdy and capable, your right hand
supports the Child’s bottom,
thumb tip open, pointing away:
‘So, this is it … ’
And the Child perches,
stiff in blue and gold,
his face fitting like a flesh glove
between your cheek and eye,
feet resting delicately together,
onto the twin of that large hand.

There could have been a warmth
but, almost grotesquely,
you hold the figure of a young man:
head, limbs, torso
perfectly proportioned,
his face already written upon.

No infant dribblings,
no soft roundnesses,
no puffy vulnerability
of baby flesh,
no unmapped

Was this it? Your eyes stare
at no-one but the painter.
And over decades, centuries,
into how many other eyes
in candlelit churches, hovels,
apartments, palaces, galleries?
So much looking.
Would there have been so much
if there was no way in?

© 2017, Patricia Leighton

Published in ‘Dreamcatcher: Issue 19


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

2 thoughts on “The Burgundy Madonna

  1. I enjoyed reading this poem. I think you captured the unusual essence of the painting (for a Madonna and child portrait, it’s quite unlike so many others, isn’t it?) and I like your pointed questions. Thanks for sharing with us this month! 🙂


  2. Thank you for articulating a perspective on the Madonna that we all share but don’t say, Patriica. The job of the poet, eh? Welcome once again to the pages of “The BeZine.”


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