The Marble Virgin
Sprouting from a carpet of the lion’s flower,
by Anthony Blackwood
Her grainy eyes droop and grieve,
For a child dead, stone white and cold,
Swaddled in her marble arms.
The moss grows in the scrolls of her shawl,
Green-black and sponged coarsely across
The nape of her neck and cowling in a halo
About the blanched oval of her face.
Day after day she stands in the cruel circlet
Of Julius’ sun, besieged by the muddy
Swale that grows her flowers while gnawing
At her bare and weary feet.
The rooks all perch and stare at the lady
Who does not stir, motionless for every
Barren increment of the graveyard hour before
Cawing their solemn aria of another season’s end.
Soon winter shall bring a pristine shroud of snow,
Blanketing the headstones and turning them to jagged
Islets in a pearly sea, while the mother and child stand
Shapeless against the skeletal limbs of the birch trees.