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This woman, cast in bronze,
Lowers her eyes upon
An infant on her lap,
His naked bulk enfolded
Within her draping mantle.

She cradles him, at rest,
While fold on fold descends,
Concealing grace with grace
Except where that cloth breaks
To bare one slip of flesh.

Here, on the desk, they sit,
Where joyless sums are added,
Where all accounts are settled,
All griefs recorded by
A hand that shakes with age;

Here, where all thoughts descend—
As does the cloth that crowns
Her head and laps her form—
But which are scrawled, crossed out,
And pierce through sheet to table.

You, virgin, cast in stillness,
You, child, upon her breast,
Of whom the prophets said,
Their glory shall be wounded
By thorn, and sword, and nail,

Conceal all that within,
Conceal as well the heat
And hammer that has made you,
To pose as if content,
Once had, remains forever.

—James Matthew Wilson