"Repenting Magdalene," Geroges de la Tour, 1637, WikiArt Photo.
“Repenting Magdalene,” Geroges de la Tour, 1637, WikiArt Photo.

In night dark, visitor at my door, anxious
Bride, Sophia, abdomen rounding, husband
Sent to war. Receptive arms, ears brought
Faster-falling tears, hearth firelight eye
And face reflecting, fates uncertain heart-
Wrenching. Raised daughters three, elder
Mother now, learnéd listener I had become,
Recollections, generations of grief, when
My gallant husband took to warring fields.

Shoulder-draped blanket from my bed,
Hot-steeping tea, honeyed bread, fresh
Fruit allayed tears, quelled her married
Angst, yet unknowing months lay ahead
Beyond reach of my kind words or silent
Prayers, for it was burden Sophia would
Bear, not alone, except for empty bed,
Her child night-quickening, burdens of
Greek wives and mothers, such memories.

More wood on fire, advice given: “Dwell
Not on darkened course, pray to blesséd
Gods, make offerings of flowers and fruit,
Live not alone in war turmoil.” By nods
Tearful, Sophia agreed. “By prayers we fend
Phantoms of night.” This guidance offered:
“Woman’s heart feels beyond seeing eyes,
Upon seaside clifftops, let your heart ascend
As wingéd ocean gull.”

"Young Mother Gazing at Her Child," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1871, WikiArt.
“Young Mother Gazing at Her Child,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1871, WikiArt.

That night she slept beside me, touching
Not but hand-in-hand, lest we drift apart
Upon uncertain seas. Next morn to clifftops
We strove, two hearts aflight searching for
Her husband. O! Tearful lights eyes beaming,
When she sensed him still alive. Another
Daughter Sophia became, together counting
Not days nor weeks, but every blessing, each
Sunrise, birth of her child, we prayed would
Never know bitter taste of war.

Narrator of this poem did not disclose to Sophia that she
Lost her h
usband to war, that she had stood on same
ocean clifftop d
ecades earlier and realized he was killed.
Alas! “Woman’s heart feels beyond seeing eyes.”

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