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

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