The Black Madonna

picking cotton on
a cold day blisters
decorated her black fingers
in the fields

She crawled on her knees
until the sun bowed
to her. Eight children
planted beneath the stars
The earth felt good to her.

You can see her now
a parched face and folded hands
she kneels in a different place
drinking blood and eating
at the altar

white gloves feel good to her
waving to touch the sky
hymns fill the air
They feel good to her
They feel good to her

  —Leonard A. Slade Jr.