Black Christ at Calvary
When Dad died I found some letters from his sister Maryat
and a faded snapshot of her painting of a black Christ on the cross.
She painted it for Walsie, the woman who sold us fresh eggs and cream--
more a mural than a portrait. Bold colors, faceless soldiers,
children running around, people grieving. Christ’s dark head
resting on his chest.
I wanted to find it. At a church outside Milledgeville
I met Walsie’s son, ninety-eight years old,
who showed me where my aunt’s painting had hung.
He said it got taken down during renovations long ago, was in storage.
There it was, brought out of a closet.
The primary colours, stark figures, the movement, the mourning.
Walsie was a powerhouse, says Mr. Walker.
He doesn’t understand why other church members
wanted to keep the painting out of sight.
Seeing it carries me back to my aunt’s bold wanderings.
Mr. Walker and I were raised in the same town.
Here we are now.
Mary Dean Lee
Mary Dean Lee’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Ploughshares, I-70 Review, Windsor Review, LEON Literary Review, The Halcyone, The Write Launch, Event, Grain, Hamilton Arts & Letters, The Tishman Review, and Montreal Serai. Recently, her manuscript, Tidal Bore, was a Finalist with Trail to Table Press. She grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, studied theatre and literature at Duke University and Eckerd College, and received her PhD in organizational behavior at Yale. She lives in Montreal, Canada.
Maryat Lee (born Mary Attaway Lee; May 26, 1923 – September 18, 1989) was an American playwright and theatre director who made important contributions to post-World War II avant-garde theatre, pioneering street theatre in Harlem and later founding the Eco Theater, which developed drama productions out of oral histories in Appalachia.
The Ekphrastic Review
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