Burlington House Cartoon

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by Johanna Caton.

Burlington House Cartoon, Leonardo da Vinci, The National Gallery, London
[Ed. Note: cartoon – a preparatory design, drawing, or painting (as for a fresco)]

Burlington House Cartoon

Cartoon real as feelings,
but Anne’s dark eyes,
like coals and incense,
tell a shekinah-

a subtle glory
in her twilight love-gaze,
mother-close yet inward,
I think, says: a fresh

has just come, waylaid
the everyday drill
with thrill of
and sailing

soul-ward in the soft
spill of her daughter’s
God-bearing glance, its
meaning flows

into Anne, its life-sap
re-juicing her sere
flesh and joint. She
sees her daughter’s

cheek, so serene
a world-conqueror:
so few syllables of pure
self-gift did it, little girl
upon her lap.

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun from Minster Abbey in Kent, England. Born in Virginia, she lived in the United States until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to England. She writes poetry as a means of understanding the work of God in her life, whose purposes and presence can be elusive until viewed through the more accommodating lens of art and poetry. Her poetry has appeared, or will appear in Green Hills Literary Lantern, Time of Singing Christian Poetry Journal, The Ekphrastic Review, The Christian Century, Amethyst Review and other venues. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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