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Mother’s Day Visit to the Pietà

ISSUE:  Winter 1995

Divinity has nothing to do with it,
this matter of simple arithmetic:
Even if she was just a stupified seventeen
when he was born, she would have to be
a frazzled fifty when he died at thirty-three.

So why do they sculpt and paint her
as a young, innocent Italian girl
instead of a battle-scarred Jewish mother
whose child gave her no end of trouble,
constantly breaking her heart and all the rules.

She knew he was headed for no good end,
every night the possibility
of some disembodied voice
from some important, impersonal place
like the police station or the morgue

belaboring the disgrace he had brought
upon family and friends. A woman
would have painted in the wrinkles,
the pounds she gained as garbage disposal
to his lunchbox after school, the rat’s nest

of uncombed hair this morning, already late
on her way to make arrangements for the tomb.
And then there was all that ungodly lightning
and thunder and earthquakes and rain
she slogged through to get here.
A mother would have sculpted in the pain.


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