My Father Takes Me to See the 32-Foot-Tall Stainless Steel Madonna Sculpture in Downtown Wilmington

Catherine Pierce


(Our Lady of Peace, sculpture by Charles C. Parks)


I was five when we drove into the city,
into the plaza with its tall silver buildings, parked
and walked right up to her, tilting our heads back
to take her in. Her great gleaming countenance.
Her elegant hands. I did not understand how this
was the woman with the fingerless lace gloves
and alarmingly beautiful lipstick, but my father said
it was Madonna so I knew it was, and I knew
she was special because my father said she was only
here for a little while, would soon be driven across
the country to a state I’d never seen and so this
was our chance to look at her, our only chance,
and so I gazed up, confused but reverent, adrift
for the first time in the great gray chasm that opens up
behind everything impermanent, which is everything.


Catherine Pierce is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi and the author of four books of poems, most recently Danger Days (Saturnalia 2020). Her poems and essays have appeared in the New York TimesThe Best American PoetryAmerican Poetry ReviewThe Nation,  the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, and elsewhere. An NEA Fellow and two-time Pushcart Prize winner, she co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.



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