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Christine Perrin & Michelangelo

Michelangelo: Pietà

A Problem of Translation

by Christine Perrin

Annie asked for a verb to encircle
the mourning embrace, I turned
without language to the stone Pieta
I’d seen on that day I climbed
the cupola against my will, weeping
my own death in the narrows
of those stairs toward the Eternal City.
The youthful mother holds endlessly
his lifeless body which, even in marble,
spills her skirts, cannot be contained.
I’ve searched for the word that suggests
this failed hold, which is how I come to think
of motherhood—wreathe, hedge, envelope,
enfold, enclasp
; none of these. Coldest
summit, roots in the forest and dark water,
passion of weeping tied to the body,
instinct’s pure hiding place.

***

Michelanglo: Pietà, 1499, marble, 174 × 195 cm, Rome.

Christine Perrin holds a B.A. in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University and an M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) from the University of Maryland, where she concentrated in poetry. Christine has taught literature and poetry at JohnsHopkinsUniversity and MessiahCollege, as well as the Gordon in Orvieto program. She has also taught poetry at various K-12 schools, teaching at every level and consults with schools on literature curricula. Christine has published many poems in publications such as Image Magazine, The Sewanee Review, TriQuarterly, Christianity and Literature, The New England Review and many others. She has twice received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and from Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. 


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