Our Lady of Sorrows at the Border

“Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also…” ~ Luke 2: 35

In the small chapel named after St. Nicholas
in Aachen is a painted image of the Suffering

Madonna— Our Lady of Tears, Our Lady of Sorrows:
her heart a mother’s heart, small lumpy heart

a pin cushion stabbed by seven slender knives
and glowing with crimson oils. How is she

even standing after the first assault,
the second, the third? How does she

not swoon to the floor and expire right there?
And the grey-haired woman on her knees, on a pew

in front of the altar: has she brought her own
mutilated heart as offering, does she pray

for the safety of her first born who’s left home
in a rage and vowed to never speak to her again?

Is that man standing by the pillar, eyes closed,
thinking of a brother who will soon be unhooked

from his hospital ventilator? We’ve all had
our share of such lacerations, many more

than seven— but how can they even compare?
And who can even keep count now of all the hearts

that pass through the border, of children wailing
as they’re ripped apart from their mothers,

reaped like potatoes from a truck and dumped
straight from a sack into a metal bin…

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