November’s golden leaves evoke memories of families gathered around tables overflowing with traditional foods, stories long forgotten, and laughter echoing across the years. Here’s a poem I wrote, one of remembering a moment long ago that has never faded from my mind.
Madonna and Child: Oil on Wood Panel by Mary Lynn Bracht
I forgot until she did it
My mother reached up and stroked the Virgin’s face
Is this real, she asked, turning to look at me over her shoulder
My eyes couldn’t meet hers, instead
I stared at her fingertips, still pressed against the painting
And wondered what it felt like to touch history
Four hundred years ago in the jungles of Central America
Madonna and child gazed down at the pagan natives
With their Catholic eyes gilded in gold
I wanted to ask her if the holy family felt warm or cold
Greasy or dry, what did touching them make my mother feel?
But then I wondered what she meant by Is this real?
Did she mean the painting
Or the Virgin’s story?
And then I remembered
I had the same urge when I was young, to touch
What was forbidden, at sixteen
My own fingertips grazed the toes
Of Zeus, standing in silence in the Louvre
The cold marble was smooth
An electric spark shocked through my skin
When a boy caught me, and grinned
So when I finally met my mother’s eyes, I did the same
She had crossed centuries with one forbidden touch
©Mary Lynn Bracht