A Madonna for Our Time
Rockets flare to ashes our countrymen afar.
We keep at distance the continuing battle between
the freely chosen and the imposed. Sacrifice is not
on our minds as we indulge in modern rituals of light.
Candles are not for the dead but for miracles and feasts.
The waning dark is always a promise of renewal;
we assume the earth will not tremble in its course.
The Duccio is a whisper in time, bought and yet unsought.
The Madonna contemplates the foretold death of her child
unlike our mothers in collective amnesia of blood sacrifice.
The Child seeks his mother's eyes for he and she know
as no others what pain is to be. Even for a nonbeliever
the Duccio may be worth the price. We can spend millions
on armor but our young men will still choose sacrifice.
To free another so he can choose to kill you takes the faith
of a fool or a god. The Madonna of Duccio is reconciled
to her child's belief, even as she balances his baby self.
As we rush forward to the solstice giving and getting,
how are we to accept the daily sacrifices in the streets
of an ancient land? Does human brotherhood prepare each
child, at the last, to leave on earth his mother mourning?

Poems by Virginia Walker

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