Madonna of the New World
God the Father has skipped town
And left them, homeless and frozen,
Two figures caught in the family snap,
Immigrants to a cold zone.
They could be waiting on the doorstep,
Passports in hand, him in swaddling clothes.
She’ll never really learn English.
He’ll go to school and work on Sunday
And the background will darken with varnish,
The shadows growing in Umbria
As the sun coasts above the yard in which
He hurls a lunch-hour snowball.
But the target here is him, his face turned
To face us, vacant as a goldfish.
Beware, though, that arm raised to prime
Her breast, the fingers
That can’t quite grasp the point
Of such bounty, such emptiness.
from Shadow Cabinet (1996)