I’ve never seen a picture of the Virgin Mary that I really liked. In the Catholic baseball card pictures, she comes off like an air-brushed celebrity. Something you’d see on a fringed belly-shirt at Myrtle Beach.
In sculpture, I can feel the weight of all those folds of concrete clothes. I get a sore neck for her. Wonder, “does her knee get tired, posing like that. Doesn’t she need to stretch her back?”
The Guadalupe paintings, I like. Where the sunburst goes around her tall body and she glitters like a fresh piece of flash on the back hatch of a 1974 El Camino on a Friday night. Mary in a Half Shell in the yard art and home-made grottoes, I’m also partial to.
It’s very likely, that for most of these pictures, some woman had to pose. Smartphone down, a bed sheet draped over her skinny jeans and t-shirt. The artist gives a few directions about gaze, soft eyes, wide, tilt your head.
But how do you make a face like the Virgin Mary? How do you pose like a Christian Queen? Is it somewhere between desire and innocence, and if so, how does she hold the pose without thinking of the day’s grocery list? Stay focused when the phone blinks with new text messages, and look forward, please. Eyes on me.
How do you pose like a Queen? The one who has to answer prayers like these?
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help, or sought your intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy, hear and answer me.