Mary Looks at Northern Renaissance Madonnas

by Devon Miller-Duggan


If I were an Amazon, I wish the baby boy—
rumpled, uncomfortable, and ugly in my lap—
a weapon. Then I’d have
shifted much of History, don’t you think?

I’d rather be a Corn Goddess on a Pueblo church’s walls,
sly insertion into a conqueror’s faith,
anchor holding my people to their ground,
long secret whispered kiva to kiva, mother to mother
until I’m not enemy.

Were I Anat*, the boy-men who wrote down
the news of my son’s birth, lives, death, and spoke of
no more women than they couldn’t remove, were I Anat,
I’d take my sickle in my strong-jointed hands and cut
their queries and assertions into halves, like Solomon,
and with my winnow, winnow out historians and priests
who erased the Spirit’s female voice.

I’d rather be Epona, so in love with creatures who bore her,
she turned away from eating horses’ flesh
and made the Roman soldiers love her so that after centuries
she turned into Godiva, riding naked, unashamed upon her horse,
covered only in her Magdalene-in-the-desert-hair,
saving her people from her husband’s avarice.

Were I Joan, in armor, I could never be erased.
Were I Freya, I’d be both war and art, able to harness and drive cats across the sky.
No men ever cared to paint my other babes.
But all of them were beautiful to me.

*Sister and possible lover of Baal. Great woman warrior.

DEVON MILLER-DUGGAN has published poems in Rattle, MargieChristianity and Literature, Gargoyle, Massachusetts Review, and Spillway.  She teaches Poetry Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include: Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017), and The Slow Salute, (Lithic Press Chapboook Competition, 2018).

Featured image: Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist by Corregio