Patricia Leighton’s ‘The Burgundy Madonna’

Patricia Leighton is an ex-middle school teacher from Worcestershire, United Kingdom, who has been writing poems for a number of years on and off (with time out to indulge in some children’s writing). She has work published in a number of magazines including Rialto, Iota, Fire, Dream Catcher, Nottingham Poetry International, Obsessed with Pipework, Spokes and a couple of Bridport Prize anthologies.
The Burgundy Madonna
Patricia Leighton
Lady, was there always this distance,
this gap of mutual love?
Mixing his colours with holy water,
crushed relics, prayers, was this
what the iconographer perceived
dipping his brush deep into his soul?
Sturdy and capable, your right hand
supports the Child’s bottom,
thumb tip open, pointing away:
‘So, this is it …’
And the Child perches,
stiff in blue and gold,
his face fitting like a flesh glove
between your cheek and eye,
feet resting delicately together,
onto the twin of that large hand.
There could have been a warmth
but, almost grotesquely,
you hold the figure of a young man:
head, limbs, torso
perfectly proportioned,
his face already written upon.
No infant dribblings,
no soft roundnesses,
no puffy vulnerability
of baby flesh,
no unmapped
Was this it? Your eyes stare
at no-one but the painter
and over decades, centuries,
into how many other eyes
in candlelit churches, hovels,
apartments, palaces, galleries?
So much looking.
Would there have been so much
if there was no way in?
Previously published in Dream Catcher, Issue 19.
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2 thoughts on “Patricia Leighton’s ‘The Burgundy Madonna’

  1. Julie

    Wow. For once in my life, I’m struggling for words. Just suffice it to say that I think it’s an amazing poem. Thank you for posting it!

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