In La Tour’s Education of the Virgin,
Saint Anne and her daughter Mary
are at peace in chiaroscuro candleglow.
Anne tilts the print up at just the right angle
for Mary to read. At ease with one another,
the mother waits, while the girl bends the light
to the book, enchanted by the words.
I’m at the kitchen table with my mother,
a small, shaded lamp illuminating our book.
She’s helping me to read, not the Bible,
but the story of Rowdy, the curious colt
who escapes from her corral and runs
up a little hill, down a little hill,
up a big hill, down a big hill,
until her mother brings her home.
I memorized Rowdy and loved reciting
with my mother the colt’s rhythmic rolling
up those hills, then down them,
up, then down again.
If I could paint, I’d fix that time
at my own kitchen table – the light,
the story, the book between us,
my mother’s devotion.
Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic and free-lance essays, and a collection of personal essays. Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing. Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. A chapbook, Bound Each to Each, was published in 2013. Heloise and Abelard, the Exquisite Truth, is based on the famous twelfth-century story of their lives.
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