Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels
Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp,
In the Zuid. South.
Walkable from my pension.
Used to visit whenever I could.
I have this love affair
Lose myself in their silence,
the gentle shuffles from painting
Some wormed their way
under my skin.
In Antwerp it’s the Fouquet Virgin.
Not sure what fascinates me more:
Its brilliance or its 15th Century involuntary
surrealism. The virgin’s fashionably shaved hair
the colours of the ‘tricolore’:
blue background, blue dress,
red angels, ghostly white flesh,
and a wink at 15th century voyeurs:
one hard breast (which today could only
be considered artificially enhanced) exposed,
ostensibly to feed the little old man-child.
Long before the French Revolution,
court and church still paid handsomely
for art that allowed looking without guilt.
Rose Mary Boehm
Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press at the end August 2020.
virgin and child surrounded by angels
rather, blest are they who hear the word of God and keep it
she a milkwhite mystery
who would be royal nourishment
worthy of a holy, royal child
this Queen of Heaven bares her breast
as red and blue angels
convene around her throne
yet this otherworldly image
was scandalous for its time
viewer, do you recall another time
would also shock with her milkwhite cry
how blessed are the breasts that nursed you
and then came His scandalously tart reply
Sister Lou Ella Hickman
Sister Lou Ella Hickman’s poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and journals as well as four anthologies. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53)
The angels anoint the miracle of your sainted birth.
No more do I see -Through a Glass Darkly.
With the blessings of your coming I now see face to face.
We are sewn into the moon and the stars.
You are the child that blesses the world..
I am made holy by our covenant..
A new beginning-a new life.
Come all and surrender unto him your fear and resignation leaving only trust and love.
For he is your God-your fate.
The world anoints itself.
Scribes will mark this day.
the wind blows your name.
the rain disrupts the sky.
The birds and angels announce your holy birth.
Sandy Rochelle is a widely published poet, actress and filmmaker. Publications include: Impspired, Wild Word, Every Day Writer, Amethyst Review, Spillwords Press, and others.
As If, About
As if a teenage peasant girl
would wear a crown,
and herself having borne a boy-child
in a byre
with cattle for her witnesses
and an inn-keeper’s door slammed shut.
As if a teenage peasant girl
would clothe herself
in yards of satin, taffeta,
and cinch her pencil waist
with strands of interwoven silk--
all below gems of costly price.
As if a teenage peasant girl
two thousand years ago
in Roman-occupied Palestine
would rest upon a burnished throne
and flaunt her breast—for all the world
like some Egyptian queen.
But angels gathered; that is true.
And outcast shepherds heard them
singing high in hills of Judah
under blazing white-hot comets--
so left their flocks and ran
to tell the world: about
a teenage peasant girl, about
her hard-graft husband on his knees
beside a manger…about the boy-child
who would change the world.
Lizzie Ballagher has just finished her first full collection of poetry. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines, including Words for the Wild, The Alchemy Spoon, Poetry on the Lake, and The Ekphrastic Review. She blogs at https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/
Creating the Perfect Breasts
Some say that implants create the ideal—you know,
to undergo cosmetic surgery, place foreign material
inside your body, add saline solution or other fillers
to lift what sags, adjust what’s uneven, or to augment
what’s deemed too small. In Fouquet’s painting,
a drafting compass was used to create the virgin’s
breasts. Here, immaculate circles, geometric shapes,
round out the canvas. Her upper torso appears smooth
and unblemished as does the child on her lap
and the chorus of angels behind her. So, who’s to say
we must follow a certain recipe to obtain perfection?
Like wrinkles and the change of skin over time,
I’m reminded of a river, its current, how it flows
into crepelike existence. As physical appearance
transforms, gravity reveals a new kind of adornment,
renders its own unique artwork, sculpts a different type
of aesthetic to behold.
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, WI, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She enjoys spending time outdoors, listening to the birds, and taking long walks. She’s authored four poetry collections and two children's books. As if Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poems is forthcoming in May 2021 from Kelsay Books. She’s also poetry reader and editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
I sleep in a high bed with the king, servant to his desire, though
I cannot look upon the Virgin’s eyes, for they are lit with webs
and cracks, those limits of holiness. Wounded like the
the rest of us, her breath scarred and shallow, tears sacred
to no one. It was either wife or whore. This, from force or
circumstance, is buried with a child in dirt and pine. Each night
he unbuckles a belt soaked in wine and breathlessness. To please
the saints we dance at the Lord’s feet in fiery light. My troubled
mind stings with nettles and humming stars. Above the ground
hearts don’t forget, and though I smile at court, the gown exposes
my breasts with gasps of scandal. Delicious! For the love
of God I shall have my way, and fly without wings. In truth
nothing good is free. He said I would pose for the painter
as Virgin, a holy mother, that most revered of women, which
certainly, I am not. Still, it pleases me to sit upon a golden
throne, crowned with pearls, held by angels. In alabaster skin
Seraphim raise me to flames and holy love, no longer queen
without a crown, a true lady. No mercury mask on my face, I am
held close at last to Cherubim. The world itself is light, for here
I am no longer whore, only Virgin. Here, I won’t die for men’s
pleasure. I shall be immortal, gazed upon, all eyes melting in pious
love. Yet, it’s strange how light darkens. Holy Mother, pray for me.
Maryann Gremillion is an educator and writer working with elementary schools, teachers, and nonprofits to build transformative communities. She taught elementary school for fifteen years in Houston where she discovered a passion for teaching creative writing. Maryann also worked for twelve years as a writer-in-residence and then program director for Writers in the Schools. Her work has been published in Glass Mountain, Teachers and Writers magazine, and several local anthologies. She is excited to complete a book chapter about her work with teachers and writers in collaboration with Texas A&M University, due to be published January 2021.
Holy Mother, Wholly Other
I too popped out my breasts
but they didn’t look like that--
perfect spheres to be plucked
from my body like apples from a tree
Already I can hear the choir:
Mary, where are your cracked nipples?
the leaky faucet and burst pipe?
the milky stones sinking to the floor?
the dark areolae lighting your baby home?
Mary didn’t need a man
but the man needs Mary
to be immaculately
in the coolness of his gaze
striped blue, red and
a fitting trio
for a state flag
Holy mother of God,
I don’t see a mother.
Charlene Kwiatkowski often writes about art and place from her home in Vancouver, Canada. Her debut poetry chapbook is forthcoming in 2021 with The Alfred Gustav Press. She has been published in Pulp Literature, June 2020: A Pandemic Anthology (845 Press),Train, PRISM international, Barren Magazine, Long Exposure, and elsewhere. Charlene has a Master’s degree in English Literature and works at a contemporary art gallery. You can find her occasionally blogging (when new motherhood allows) at textingthecity.wordpress.com
Moonlight and Red Angels
I cuddle under my fluffy blue down flannel blanket, facing my husband’s sleeping back, cupping my baby’s sweetly scented head against my breast, both of us bathed in white light from a full moon shining through the giant square skylight above us. Exhausted, I drift in and out of sleep as my baby suckles, his peach fuzz hair glowing like silver iridescence.
The bright red lights of the digital alarm clocks I keep compulsively set around the room to be sure I awaken in time for work three days a week let me know we are approaching two in the morning. No work tomorrow and infinite magical darkness for nursing. No rushing through time right now.
A family of four baby raccoons and one mother gather around the rim of the skylight watching over us like angels. Clouds start blocking the moonlight and snowflakes begin to fall. In my half-sleep, the phantasmagorical raccoons glow red, reflecting the seemingly multiplying clocks as the animal babies slide slowly down the increasingly slippery window. My vision blurs and my eyelids feel heavy.
I adjust my baby on a cozy flannel pillow to switch breasts. I feel ecstatic compared to daytime on workdays, when I forlornly pump breast milk manually at my desk over lunch, skimming medical charts between the psychotherapy patients I nurture in meticulously calibrated and documented time slots. Now I can just enjoy my baby’s sucking lips on my nipples in the seemingly endless night.
Nothing feels sadder than when I rush home from work in traffic on cold winter nights and arrive too late to nurse because my husband has just fed the baby from my breast milk supply in the freezer. Sometimes I just cannot pry my last needy patients out the door of my office filled with wall and desk clocks everywhere, reminders of my strict time limits on acts of giving reimbursed by health insurance to my hospital clinic. I am obsessed with staying on schedule. I hate when I am forced to leave too late and feel my breasts fill with milk, aching and leaking the whole way home. I cry every time I stop at a red light.
On such nights, I collapse on the couch, bereft, miserably pumping my milk into plastic bottles, drained emotionally from doling out psychotherapy all day in precise forty-five minute “reimbursable hours.” My painful breasts are pathetically suctioned by a manual device while I hold my contented sleepy baby on my lap.
The middle of the nights of missed evening feedings are the most precious feedings of all, as I slip in and out of consciousness under the sentry of magical red raccoon angels who peer down upon us and glow.
Gloria Garfunkel is a retired psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University. She was an Art History major at Barnard College. She has published over a hundred stories of flash fiction and is completing a memoir in flashes of her childhood as a daughter of Holocaust survivors.
The baby wouldn’t latch.
Time after time Mary raised him to her breast. Every time, he turned away, screaming.
The nurse sent in the lactation consultant, who took one look at Mary’s breasts, and said, “Your nipples are too small.” She pinched hard, then offered a nipple made of silicon. Far better than Mary’s criminally small ones. “Try this nipple shield,” said the LC.
When the baby refused that too, the LC commanded, “Pump.”
By the third day of pumping, every two hours on the hour, Mary’s breasts were so full, they stood at attention.
“I look like a sculpture of Boudicea,” she joked. “Or I can cut one off and be an Amazon.” Her breasts were heavy and hard, and hurt so much from the inside that cutting them off didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
When she woke the next morning, they had turned into stone. She wasn’t even surprised. Her baby gladly took the bottle she had pumped during the night. This time when she pressed her breast, they didn’t hurt.
All around her, she could hear laughter, like she was being watched by countless red babies who turned their mouths away, repudiating her.
She called the LC.
"You mean they're rock hard?" the LC asked.
“No. They're made out of rock. Literally.”
“Hmm,” said the LC. “Come over to the clinic. Let me have a look.”
“Oh,” said the LC. “You weren’t joking. They are made of rock.”
Mary’s blue dress gaped open. It looked like someone had taken two large river rocks and stuck them at random angles onto her skinny chest.
“I've never seen anything like this,” the LC said.
“So now what?” Mary asked.
The LC laid her hand on the cold smooth surface again. As though she couldn't quite believe her touch. Mary saw the touch, but didn't feel it, except as a kind of phantom memory. It was easier this way.
“There could be advantages,” the LC said. She handed Mary the big, baby-weight doll with the creepy unhinging mouth that the clinic used to teach holding positions. It was twice the size of Mary’s baby, and held itself upright rather than squirming like a recalcitrant worm in her arms.
“Look how erect the nipple is standing. Should be super easy to get a latch,” the LC said. “ Even pumping should be easier. You just hook the flange on top, and it will stay in place.”
“Except that it's stone,” Mary said.
The LC looked at her blankly.
“I don't think stones excrete milk.”
“Oh,” the LC’s excitement dimmed. But then she brightened. “There are legends of stones pouring forth water. Doesn’t that hymn go something like 'Who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters?' Why not milk?”
Mary didn’t think this was much of an argument, but she had no energy to argue with the mad-eyed zeal. Besides, she didn’t want to be a bad mother. “How do we check?” she asked.
The LC squeezed Mary’s breast, Her fingers didn't make a dent in the cold surface. Mary felt a spurt of satisfaction at the thought that the LC was probably hurting herself with all that pressure, while she couldn’t feel a thing.
“Well, I guess we can try what Moses did.”
“Which was?” But the LC had left the room.
She came back with a hammer. “It should be a staff, but I think this might do.”
She raised the hammer over her head.
“What are you doing?!” Mary tried to jerk away. It was too late. Smash, right down on her breast.
The rock rang, and then a hairline crack spread up to the nipple.
Milk seeped out, glinting like water over the pale stone.
“See?” said the LC. “It worked! If at first you don't succeed, just try a little harder”.
Batnadiv HaKarmi is an American born writer and painter living in Jerusalem. A graduate of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University, her work has been published in Poet Lore, Ilanot Review, Poetry International, MomEgg Review and Partial Answers. She is the recipient of the Andrea Moria Prize for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction. Her work can be seen at www.batnadiv.com
her regal cape
and jeweled crown,
her fulsome breast
escaped the tight-laced
bodice of her silken gown.
The infant pale,
upon her knee
gazes at some point
unseen by mortal eyes,
ignores her murmurs
and maternal milk.
What child so still?
to light his mother’s heart.
Her countenance a mask,
The love that courses
for this child, a god,
his thoughts already fixed,
as seraphim and cherubim
ring round the virgin’s throne,
a chorus of the living
and the damned.
Jennifer Hernandez, Minnesota teacher/writer, has performed her work at a non-profit garage and a taxidermy-filled bike shop. Her flash fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction touch on themes of identity, social justice, and the different lenses through which we view the world. She delights in the interplay of image and text and has published work in Visual Verse and Poetry in the Park in the Dark, a project sponsored by Saint Paul Almanac in which poets and artists collaborated to create broadside posters for display in solar-powered “rocks” that lit up at night for passersby.
Should I treat it as a postcard, artist unknown, to me,
half diptych stands as striking, herald tones, heraldic shades,
a veil between the vivid and washed holy marble plane,
so fine the portrait, early date, I want to see its twin.
But then I’m left to grapple, pre-reformation church,
if even centre-justified, supposed, this manger birth.
Madonna’s not appealing, the Queen of Heaven song,
incongruent portrayal, a juxta to my faith.
Perhaps I should be distant, or taken off the case,
restrict myself to painting, ignore the personal.
But then what of engagement, a subject. spirit stirred -
you may be academic, but this affair’s of heart;
I try to social distance, but that would mean a mask.
And then I delve still further, a guidebook from the rack,
and wracks the word, the struggle, king’s lover feeds my lord.
I learn that she has neighbour, through patronage, reward,
and Stephen, the first martyr, is stoned cold, pointed, bold.
I know the zeitgeist different - though wonder, watching news -
I know said fallen women, the Nazarene’s response.
It’s not the breast portrayal - the baby’s fat on milk -
though Agnès known for low-gowns, a provocation stance.
I guess who pays the piper, can chose the model worked,
but state that names the mistress, a title to the crown?
You’ll think that I am foolish, too close to feel the art;
it’s set me all a lather, these corrupt gospel soaps.
But that’s because the artist, holistic slice of life;
dictators use the poets, while novels burnt in piles.
We all admire the brushstrokes, the colour palette range;
I have to face the subject, then subjugate my rage.
I think of temple tables, all overturned on stage,
inclusion sold for pigeons, then justify the trade.
Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 200 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including The Ekphrastic Review, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/
Why use your talent to blaspheme
the Gospel -- painting patron's dream
where favored saint would honor plea
that mistress of the King could be,
resplendently bejeweled seen,
in mockery, as modern queen,
of lowly Mary, saint by task,
who honored but what God would ask
and, far more modest, would expose
no more than faith by which she chose
to serve her Child at willing breast
the nurture craved at his behest?
You prove no more than truth profane
of right by war and blood to reign.
Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
The Christmas Angel
There was a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, and an argument in our house. By the time we finished dinner and Mom settled the younger kids with Grandma, everyone was upset. When she drove me into the crowded church parking lot, we were late. It was almost time for the pageant and my special role as the Little Christmas Angel.
The Sunday School teacher had shown beautiful pictures of the Nativity by famous artists, so everyone understood exactly how the scene and characters should look. Mary would wear a blue dress and a white mantle and a peaceful expression. She’d wrap the naked Baby Jesus in a white cloth. A bright spotlight would shine on them. We’d rehearsed for weeks after Sunday School.
My grandmother had made me a beautiful angel costume with a long silver gown, gauzy wings and a gold tinsel halo. I’d visualized standing on the raised platform in centre stage behind the Holy Family and singing Angels We Have Heard On High. I’d practiced spreading my wings and gently flapping them to cool the baby’s face.
I thought God would probably watch from a mysterious place above the overhead spotlights and smile. God would see that I was serious about my responsibilities. In my six years on Earth, this would be the most thrilling thing that ever happened.
When I arrived in the church basement where everyone assembled to go onstage, chaos reigned. My gown was gone! Frantically, I tugged on the Choir Director’s robe and fearfully asked where it was.
She told me a sad truth. Because I was late, they’d re-assigned my costume and role. There was no place left for me. I could sit in the audience with my mother and watch—or go home. It took a moment to comprehend this. My jaw dropped, knees buckled and I dropped to the floor.
Ruined! Christmas Eve was ruined . . . I was supposed to be an angel! Tears spilled down my face as I sat cross-legged on the cold tiles.
A kindly teacher offered me an old red bathrobe and a mop handle. She said I could be a shepherd and stand in the background. I reluctantly accepted and tied a rope around my waist to hitch up the oversized gown. It smelled like cigarettes. The angels fluttered their wings and adjusted their halos for the stage while I watched, stomach twisting with envy. As the pageant began, everyone forgot about me.
From behind the red velvet curtains, I watched the entire cast assemble before the packed audience. Ooh! Ahh! A polite round of applause broke out as they took their places. It was time to make a grand entrance.
I had no lines or directions to follow and wandered onto the stage in an improvised solo performance. Strolling about, I pretended to search for something—sheep, perhaps?
“Baaaaah baaaaah . . . here, sheep, sheep, sheep.” Feigning concern, I checked my Mickey-Mouse watch. Did the old time shepherds wear watches? When I heard a few giggles from the front row, it occurred to me I’d made a mistake.
The back of the stage was crowded, and it was impossible to find a place to stand. The Wise Men, in their fancy crowns and long capes, elbowed me out of the way. Two boys disguised as a brown cow tried to kick me. I tripped over my drooping robe and had to roll up my floppy sleeves. The angel who had replaced me sneered and said, “Get lost, kid.”
There was a clearing in the middle of the stage. Heart pounding, I walked up to the Holy family and knelt down on a bundle of straw beside the manger.
Our Mary was a young mother who’d risked the bad weather to bring the beautiful newborn child to church. Lying on a soft white blanket in the little wooden bed, the baby whimpered, pink mouth twisting for her breast. She removed the wrappings and lifted him to her lap. Oblivious to his solemn responsibilities, the baby gurgled and waved a chubby hand. I reached out and touched a wee warm finger. The babe smiled.
Attracted to a glowing light in the middle of the auditorium, I peered into the darkness. It was my mother’s face, shining like a star, attentive to my every move on stage.
Afterwards, the teacher chastised me for "stealing the show." Whatever that meant. She didn’t return my angel costume.
On the slow, snowy car ride home, Mother tried to console me. “Those angels seemed awfully hot and cranky up there. I could see them scratching and they sang out of tune. It’s a good thing you weren’t one of them.”
After a moment, I said, “It turned out better.”
As the wind blew drifts of snow across our path, the world outside the car disappeared. Face tight with worry, Mother hunched forward over the steering wheel, straining to see the dimly lit road ahead.
Beneath their burden of snow, the twinkling red and green lights strung on our trees welcomed us when we pulled into our driveway. We were home and I reached for her hand.
Sharon Frayne is a former high school visual art and English teacher, now writing and painting full time. She lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where she belongs to the Pumphouse Art Gallery and the NOTL Writers Circle.
Once, in a Wendy’s in the heart of Nebraska, I nursed
my baby, took off my teal coat, unslung my girl, and created
a makeshift tent to be modest as I gorged on the delicious food--
Frosty and fries had never tasted so good.
Still, the kid one booth over snickered,
like he’d never seen a breast before. As if.
The woman in the painting—the Virgin Mary—has no such problems.
She exposes her perfect white breast—marble-like,
the shape of an orange or full moon--
to her red-haired Jesus,
while the angels watch,
strange purveyors of the scene, looking downcast
or boldly at the viewer
(maybe they want some fries?) (they seem uncomfortable there).
The Virgin herself looks down at her babe, cheeks flushed against white
pallor, her mouth inscrutable—a tint
of red that she traced in the mirror just for this. A mouth you could
kiss before you scrambled to leave.
A woman who is beyond caring, turned to stone out of glossy
ecstasy. Why is she so
bored? Jesus points, a slim finger, as if he’s saying
“Hey, Mama. Hey.” (He’s not crying or squirming for milk like
my babies. No, he’s a dignified little man.)
But Mama will have none of it.
The passion that made him is mired in mythological
weeds. A jeweled crown. She wants
to rip it from her head, to release her long hair. It will be soon—uncoiled,
like it was when they pretended to make rapturous love.
This is silly, this show, this
bulwark of misogyny. She sighs. Covers her breasts and scurries
away, leaving the artist’s studio and the borrowed child,
15 years old; friend of a friend.
Sally Cobau is a writer/mother/teacher from Dillon, Montana. Having received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana, she's had work published in Poems Across the Big Sky, rattle, The Sun, and Room. She likes to bake, cook, and hike in her spare time. She loves dogs, and always hunts for wild animals--especially foxes and owls--on her hikes.
Jean Fouquet, star of the art world stands back, views his Virgin Mother, smiles. He has definitely captured her: her bold, powerful gaze; her milk-white skin; those full, hard, breasts with one breast freed from an unlaced bodice; her robe brushed into being out of the rarest lapis blue; her pale ermine cloak balanced smoothly on delicate shoulders; her gold crown studded with exquisite pearls and flawless gems. She is perfection.
Étienne Chevalier thinks so too. He studies the finished painting for the first time, remembering her. He suppresses a strong desire to weep. In his head, he rebukes himself. The Secretary of State cannot be seen to be vulnerable, even in front of an artist, especially not one who is costing him a fortune with his insistence on using the best hand-ground pigments. Not that he resents the money. She deserves it. She always gave a good report of him to the King and now his intervention will secure her place in Heaven. How magnificent she will look in church! Though his response needs to be measured, cautious. He cannot as yet be certain how everyone will view this representation. Furthermore, he has lost one of his closest allies. He must proceed with care. He senses Fouquet’s eyes following him around the space. Chevalier moves back and forth, shifts his stance, examining the painting from different angles so it will look as if he needs more time to assess. It is a ploy he practices often. A random question would look appropriate. He turns to Fouquet: “Why is the Infant Christ pointing?”
The artist laughs, declaring that it is obvious. He reminds his patron that the Virgin Mother and the Infant Christ will be placed next to his painting of Chevalier kneeling in front of St Stephen. The Infant Christ is therefore pointing at the painting’s owner. It is a gesture in his honour. Surely everyone must acknowledge the Secretary of State’s generous patronage, his vision, his respect for the King’s late…? Before Fouquet can say any more, Chevalier nods, hurries away, biting his lower lip.
Fouquet sighs. His knows his patron loves this work. Why doesn’t he say so? She is the most exquisite Virgin Mother there has ever been! Any fool can see this! Surely, after this creation he must be appointed Court Painter before the year is out? He deserves it now! He glances up at his masterpiece, considers the vibrancy of the blue, the brilliance of the reds, the solemn adoration of the cherubs, the charisma of this most divine woman. The grieving King will be overjoyed that beautiful Agnès Sorel has been brought back to life so majestically. Though who knows what Queen Marie might say when she learns that the Virgin Mother is the spitting image of her husband’s dead mistress?
Dorothy Burrows enjoys writing flash fiction, poetry and short plays. Both her poetry and flash fiction have been published online by various e-zines including The Ekphrastic Review. Four of her short audio scripts are to be found in a permanent installation in a museum in Oxfordshire. She tweets @rambling_dot .
I wish someone would tell me why
why the painting is so ornate
ornate when the story is so simple
simple as can be.
Wearing a cloak of royal blue
Mary sits on her bejeweled throne
and is surrounded
surrounded by little red devils
(like the ones that perch on your shoulder
and whisper in your ear)
disguised as angels.
How can we relate?
How can we relate
when the tale we hear is so different
different from what we see?
Seeing is believing after all
The serenity and simplicity
is now overtaken by ostentatious opulence.
Nivedita Karthik a graduate in Immunology from the University of Oxford. She is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer and published poet from India. Her poetry has appeared in Glomag, The Society of Classical Poets, The Epoch Times, Visual Verse, The Bamboo Hut, and Eskimopie and is forthcoming in The Sequoyah Cherokee River Journal.
In the Image of My Mother
I remember relishing a few moments
of watching my mother halt her day
after she was done carving meaning
into our lives, as she etched our days
with a safe morning, of lunch boxes
with storytelling under whirling fans
with flickering warmth of a casserole
with newly learned dessert platters
with nights in laps of slowed scents
with lessons crafted into a filigree
with mystery found in garnet drops
with clicking talk of knitting needles
with bookshelves made of minutiae
I remember relishing a few moments
of crying into her diaphragm, listening
after she was done stepping her feet
one before the other, always breathing
her smile a clasp around our lives, hair
in a bun, shaped like a receding cloud
she came alive, pretending scenes from
silent movies-- I half remember
relishing a few idle moments, floating
in her fading image
from an unnamed distance.
Kashiana Singh lives in Chicago and embodies her TEDx talk theme of Work as Worship into her everyday. Her first collection is Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words. Her chapbook Crushed Anthills is a journey through 10 cities. Her poems have been published on various platforms including Rattle, Poets Reading the News, Visual Verse, Oddball Magazine, Café Dissensus, and others. Kashiana proudly serves as an Associate Poetry Editor for Poets Reading the News.
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