What a weight for a maiden
to wear, but how delicately
the artist has cast my veils
as I cradle my child. I am a girl,
still, with a baby. No longer
an innocent, though I held
my head high through taunts
and murmurs at my calling myself
virgin, still. Infant on my lap but
—vision! horror! burden—he sprawls
a full-grown man, body (delicately)
pierced but (astoundingly) dead.
My babe’s first breath so recently
drawn, gone to last breath
I’ll carve her serene.
Can’t help it, this girl of placid
fortitude has my heart. I’ll frame
her with folds of stone—skirts, veil
and robe, surround her lap with volume, play
with proportion, and no one will wonder
how such a small woman
can hold so stark
and naked a load
Pity indeed. Her one hand
is outstretched, on her other
fingers are splayed. His bared
foot dangles. Too young
too calm, the mother clasps
the broken body.
This poem was first published in Feral.
Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry collections, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books, 2019) as well as Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020) and Tower, a novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Her work has been published throughout North America and in the U.K., and nominated for Best of the Net. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Prairie Fire, Event, Dreich and Humana Obscura, among others. Originally from the prairies, Frances has long been well-settled in Ottawa. For more, visit www.francesboyle.com and follower her on Twitter and Instagram at @francesboyle19.
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