When I was a child, May was the month of bright yellow forsythia, fuzzy fat pussy willow, and the May altars my classmates and I concocted from shoe boxes disguised with tinfoil and adorned with doilies, flowers real and artificial, and glow-in-the-dark or dashboard-sized statues of the Virgin Mary. The time of First Holy Communions and, ultimately, the pageant to crown Mary's statue at the side altar of church, May was probably the month when I first learned "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue" by Mary Dixon Thayer, a poem/prayer I memorized in grade school.
This May, I am thrilled to share the current issue of Ovunque Siamo, the online journal of New Italian-American Writing edited by Michelle Messina Reale, in which my Madonne Nere inspired riff on Thayer's poem appears.
Here is a taste of my LOVELY LADY, DARK OF HUE,:
Lovely Lady, dark of hue,
Teach me how to pray.
A god was born your little boy,
Tell me what to say
When you sat him, as he grew,
Gently on your knee
Did you sing to him the way
My mother sang to me?
Did he hold your hand at night?
Did you ever cry
Telling him stories of the world?
Ah! Then did he pry
The deepest secrets from your soul —
The name of every herb,
Of every sacred flower
You sowed to save the earth?
Lovely lady, darkly hewn
From an ancient tree....