Roseann LloydUSAWriting2004
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Santa Maria Magdalena

Not the Magdalen of Donatello, ravaged,
Not the Mary of Mel Gibson, stripped and nunified,
Mary of Perugino is sweet and healthy as any
young woman in the Umbrian hills, her eyes
dark and alive, turned away from our curiosity.
Her hair dark as the woods and thick as
the woods, too. Her halo a thin rim of gold,
as though her face eclipses the sun, the one each morning I open to our bed...
Her name in gold stitched on her blouse, only a
touch of pink lace suggests body underneath.
When I see the S. for Saint, I offer up to the
quiet room my excitement, In which country
has she ever been declared a saint?
Surely not this one.
In the gift shop I’m eager
for her image. No more. It is finished, says the
tall woman with Umbrian hair, amber droplets
caressing her long neck. It is finished. She.
shakes her head sadly on my behalf. Look at these
postcards of St. Sebastian with sensuous arrows!
Look at the erotic filigree at the baptism! Look
at these Virgin Mary’s with hefty bossy baby
Jesuses! They won’t do, won’t do at all. I want
Santa Maria.
But the citizens of the country
of women have spoken. They have bought up
all the postcards of our saint. Tutti. Tutti. All
the post cards finished, collected, sold out, gone.
Even though I go away empty-handed, my heart is
full knowing that she is henceforth
declared, anointed and canonized: Our Saint.
Mary Magdalen. Santa Maria.
Santa Maria Maddalena.