Madonna of the Snows

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells
Honorable Mention, January 2014
Judged by Robert Lee Brewer


The storm wraps her in winter,
swaddles her newborn with a cloak
fallen from air. “The Lord will provide.”
She bows against sea squalls.
In her salt garden at a field’s edge,
only strangers pass. They step away
from this concrete woman, leaning
beside a pine to protect her child.

The path is banked and billowed,
a shovel plunged into its folds.
Thorn hedges wear ice petals,
blooming in a land where only
the hellebore opens now: Christmas
Rose, sticky with musk. Blood
on leaves at her feet.

She gazes through the distance,
Mother of All Sorrows; starflakes
drift above her head. A spear of light
descends from the one who cast her,
alone with a half-god and eyes
that long to close.

She is his artifact, and ours as well,
fixed on an iron stake impaling the earth.
She has been created to stand mute
and accept that chaos will blast
every flower she has ever known.

Not even her sleeping babe can stir,
nor lose his robe to the briars.


This poem impresses me more with each reading. I love the final five lines, and I admire poets who attempt communicating a 'message' in their poems. Plus, it's unusual to see the term 'starflakes' in a poem--so kudos for that. --Robert Lee Brewer

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block