Deep down, I think my family is concerned about all of this. My Dad, the life-long Jew, can't understand when I do my best to explain the concept of the Trinity; my Mom, formerly a Protestant, holds a teeny-weeny grudge against Catholics for telling her that she was going to Hell when she was younger. My brother... well, my brother is oblivious when it comes to anything that doesn't involve a soccer ball.
I've done my best to assure them that I have interest in converting (indeed, I really don't), but I find the similarities between Judaism and Catholicism fun to analyze. Eternal lights, bread and wine, ark-like structures-- we share quite a bit. The stuff we don't have in common is just as cool. I grew up in a religion that frowns on depicting the human form in art, so I just love to stare at the marble Madonnas so sheer that I can see a candle's glow behind them. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is so foreign to me that it takes me forever to understand how a deacon relates to a cardinal relates to a pope and so on.
Going to Rome during my semester abroad, obviously, was like dying and going to Heaven. Nuns, monks, and priest everywhere! Even priest pin-up posters-- imagine that! Almost as cool as the rabbi trading cards I found in Sfat.
Anyway, in poetry class, we were told to pick a piece of art and write a poem about it. Of course, I chose "Madonna del Libro" (above), a beautiful painting by Botticelli.
So, after all of the exposition, here is the poem, in a supremely rough draft.
The woman and the babe debate religion,
their whispered thoughts hushed in the fading sunlight.
The child, his mind clear
from nine months of solitary contemplation,
cranes his neck, curious to catch the glint
of understanding in his mother’s eyes.
She inclines her head in an effort to grasp his words,
but really she is inspecting her child’s unstained brow,
searching for the future. She considers
wrestling the golden thorns from his forearm
but to do so would be like pulling the dead from Fate’s iron fingertips
or turning water into wine.
So she wraps her cloak like the folds of Heaven
around her son, silently urging him
to keep his stubby legs in firm contact with the dirt
and his sticky fingers entwined in her hair.
But his eyes already point towards the
stars and his future amongst them.
The professor says that I should send it to one of the Christian poetry journals. That makes me pee myself a little.
As if my last name wouldn't give it all away.