Madonna of Bruges – A Poem by Frances Boyle w/ a Drawing by MS Evans

Madonna of Bruges

How can I help but be moved
by the hollow at her marble throat,
smoothed plane of her jaw, eyes
softly cast down
looking, not at the boy
who leans on her knee
hugging one of her hands,
but towards the book she holds,
open-palmed, with the other?

She looks real my daughter says
of the postcard I carry home.
And, yes, the master has carved life
in her hair, eyebrows, lips,
soft indentation of her chin,
the folds of her hood.

Real, yes. But her untroubled
love for a boy who could only
be trouble
                deepens the bruises
from my too-real daughter’s flailing
moods; my own lack of serenity
mirror-altered if not rebuked
in the tenderness her stone exudes.

Photo by John W. MacDonald

Frances Boyle is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books 2019), as well as Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020) and Tower, a novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). She is a Canadian writer, living in Ottawa, whose writing has appeared throughout North America and in the U.K. Recent and forthcoming publications include work in Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Event, Prairie Fire, Floodlight, Black Bough, Mineral Lit, Feral, Artis Natura, Cypress, Red Alder Review, Parentheses Journal, Train, Dreich, Wine Cellar Press and Humana Obscura. Visit for more, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @francesboyle19.

Banner Image: Alone with One. A Drawing by M.S. Evans.

M.S. Evans is a writer and visual artist. Originally from Seattle, she currently lives in her family’s old town of Butte, Montana. Her work has been published in Re-Side,  Black Bough Poetry and previously in ‘Geographies’, and “Dispatches from a Pandemic” series from Ice Floe Press.  Twitter: @SeaNettleInk  Instagram: @permacrust.

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