Chapbook excerpt: Madonna Lactans

fouquet madonna

I am working on 2 ekphrastic chapbooks. Here is an excerpt. This section is about Jean Fouquet’s The Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, 1452-1458. Please check my blog periodically to receive notice of my chapbooks’ release. I hope to have the first available for purchase by the end of spring.

The woman is on the throne and her dress is open at the breast. The boy is on her cape on her knee. She lowers her chin to look at the boy.

A little girl is looking at the painting. “Why is it so big?” she asks with distrust.

Her mother leans near, sympathetic to the art and her child: “Because she’s nursing the baby.”

“The other one isn’t big.”

“It is. It’s just that her dress is super, super tight—you see, she’s nursing the baby—”

The throne is slick as pietra dura, spotted like salami, various with gradiant pine-green. The cherubim crowd: platelet-red, supernaturally blue. The woman is fashionably white to the point of ugliness, though she is very beautiful. She has a languid humorous air.

The ribbon at her solar plexus is taut and chugging in its eyelets: the heavy, sure and increasing forward motion of locomotives. Her breast bends the white gauze slip. White gauze like the melting edges of ice, a wall-thick ice shrunk by spring, thinner than a human tongue. I remember my childhood: look down through the ground-ice to the black earth it magnifies, wet, wet, grit and herbs.

I have an erotic experience of my own body, indistinguishable from the sensation of a spring breeze, as I observe the wide plane between her shoulder and neck, neck and clavicle. The tops of trees which move like water.

The ends of her fingers are pink as sheep’s mouths. The blue angels’ hands are vulpine in their prayer-shapes. Some animals mature outside the womb: the belly-shaped puppy is red but purple too, and gray, and not yet designated by limits. The workmen move competently and do not rush. I think of the workman on the roof striding. He is smoking without his hands and he lifts lumber and his big-booted feet. The wholesomely blind animal is under way. I see the men doing the newborn animal into completion. But the red of the cherubim is thorough. The cherubim are entire and unlimited.

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