black madonna

Our Black Madonna
Gwyn McVay

Our Black Madonna of Czestochowa,

a four-foot chamber, three feet of water.
Oil is the weeping of the fingers.

Nine men, three days. Translucency,
indifference of a flood,

the cheek of Your mine. Only change
the grinding to the song of traffic,

murmur their mutters down to cabbage frying,
cut off the hair of the mountain.
          I was wounded
three quarters of a century
          before my birth.
Drill down, Lady,
          where drill bits cannot,
lower old Oscar's
          tin pail, lower lamplight,

all for the soft smeary gold
to blacken Your face with. As we worship You,
Lady, as a terrible mountain,

we worship Your rock by diving deeper
than sensible man would crawl, for a living.
We bring home your coal to eat.

You hold the glove of the falconer.
Call the crew home, one way or another,

let the long shift be over, let every man's shadow
come up, desperation be buried.