She is a mother first—in every church
she lights a candle for her harrowed son.
One already lit supplies the match.
Today San Stefano, above her stretched
a heaven of dark keel vaulting. Here an icon,
Byzantine, true presence in the church
of the second Eve, the mother she beseeches.
She gives a euro to the tin box. It rings
like loss. Someone’s loss will be her match.
Who sees one more candle brighten a niche,
its light call out to Mother, Father, Son?
We’re none of us at home. In every church
bright fields of candles. We are Croesus rich
in grief, God knows—Romans killed his son.
Whose candle is she using for a match?
Who would choose a god who isn’t wretched,
knowing what it means to lose a son?
His son returned, we learn in every church.
She asks her son to be a perfect match.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.