It’s a sin to lust after the Virgin Mary,
even though her face beguiles us
with its half-closed eyelids, even though
her bodice threatens to spill open,
even though her halo twinkles
like a lighthouse in search of a sailor.
There are reasons for this: She has
an image to keep up. She has to keep
her mind focused on losing a son and gaining
the World. She’s almost too fragile
for words, let alone acts
of volition, of natural
human passion, everything
denied her. Longing
is a lantern that shines modestly
within, where it stays. It’s a sin
to want this, to want to undrape
the muslin that covers her hair, to want
to look far enough into her eyes that she’ll have
to look back. It’s a sin to look for her
in every woman on the street, the ones
who waft by behind the wheels of minivans,
the ones who pass you in stairwells,
leaving their aroma of powder,
of frankincense, a vague glow illuminating
the air behind them.