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God's Portrait

Like Manet's painting, The Gare Saint-Lazare,
As children we search through the fog and stare:
The locomotive is missing, one does not see the train,
Like the soul of the engine, the smoke and fire remain.

Trains chug, approach, and disappear.
The girl watches and waits for the fog to clear,
Past the fence bars, through the whirs and whistles,
Searching for the unseen, her mind bristles.

The hiss and heat of gray steam clouds blossom,
Billowing plumes of a pale gray medium.
The rumble of the rails and the clickity clack
Bringing the world in and taking it back.

Fearful yet fascinated the child stares
Imagined monstrous wheels rush along the rails
All the while the mother sits calmly and smiles
Knowing of trains that lap the miles.

She knows the future awaits verdant and fresh
With new journeys, new tracks, new lives to mesh.
She focuses on the distance, the station at her back,
While comfortably life sleeps cuddled in her lap.

Ten children she'd raise, a Herculean task
Providing the needs their lives would ask.
Bringing up her children and even their friends,
Train loads of laundry and meals without end.

A plethora of pens, a forest of paper,
Enough crayons and clay to build a skyscraper.
How many cuts, scrapes, and bruises healed
By the caring voice and smile she'd wield?

Loud as a terminal, the roundhouse would rock,
Yet the engine's energy was nonstop,
With evolving itineraries constant,
With each new kid a new destination sent.

From what might have been chaos and confusion,
Came families, homes, even 17 grandchildren.
Ancestral dreams and histories survive,
This is the way God-blessed civilizations thrive.

With strength to endure what their travels would bring
Rewarded with the blessings each child would sing
Of their mother who conceived the way.
Of their mother who in their hearts would stay.

The Miraculous conceptions dutifully done
Like the fall of night and each new born sun
The train pulls away from the station so sure
A part of the past and each generation's future.

Like Manet's painting, The Gare Saint-Lazare
As children we search through the fog and stare:
The locomotive is missing, one does not see the train,
Like the soul of the engine, the smoke and fire remain.

In the rumble of the distance behind clouds and trees,
Along every journey taken from sea to sea,
The warmth of the sun remembered in the rain,
The inspired miracle named Lorraine.

For Mrs. Lorraine Weisser,
  Fondly remembered in so many ways,
    M.J.Mariani   Copyright 7/13/1998


Manet.jpg (92580 bytes)
Edouard Manet
The Railway, 1873
Gift of Horace Havemeyer in memory of his mother, Louisine W. Havemeyer
1956.10.1
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

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