Madonna and Child

Stuart H. Coleman

31 December 2014

Madonna and Child


A Trailways bus, a country highway, dusk.
The driver, a sallow old insomniac,
is intimate with each curve in the road;
he sits on a pillow, bony hands steering
his shuttle along a memorized route.
The soldier in the seat just ahead of me
stares into the darkening woods, staring
beyond his reflection into the turning trees.
The wife he left behind still waves in my mind.
The other passengers have sunken down
into their reclined seats in half-sleep,
adrift in their dreams, lulled by the engine's hum.
Across from me sits a young black woman,
her bundled infant still asleep in her lap.
The reading-light makes a vision of them.
I wonder who and where the father is…
Across the night deep in the valley below,
a dome of purple light lies over the city
like bright Atlantis many leagues away,
a world just waiting for discovery…
The mother breathes in deeply, closes her eyes
and tries to see their fate, hers and her boy's.
I whisper softly, "Let them be all right,"
wondering if anyone overheard
my unaddressed prayer.  Kissing his chest,
his chin, his forehead, blessing his brown body,
she stirs him from the world of sleep to see
beyond the rushing dark and dying stars
the city's constellation—there they will
begin again.  The boy's unfocused eyes
are opening about to cry but then he sees
the face (arrayed in light) that gave him life.
He feels the arms around him gently sway
and hearing her whispered words in his ear
his mouth opens in O-shaped ecstasy
(revealing toothless gums and speechless tongue)
and forms the sound of inexpressible joy.

©Stuart H. Coleman

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