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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 10: October 2021
Poem: 111 words
By Ruth Bavetta

Madonna With the Long Neck

—After Parmigianino’s iconic painting
Standing, she’d be nine feet tall. 
That dainty right foot 
resting on a velvet pillow? Size 13. 
The legs? Sequoias. 

Heavens, she’s thinking, 
who is this enormous child 
they’ve parked upon my lap? 
Am I expected to feed him? 

Eyes downcast, hair in greasy ringlets, 
she cocks her head and simpers. 
The camera’s on her and she knows it. 

She points, not too subtly, to her breast—
an upturned little thing; drapery clings 
to its erect nipple. Look motherly, 
they’ve told her, but that’s not 
a breast engorged with milk. 

Behind her there’s nothing 
but underpainting. The set painters 
have walked away. 

The Madonna With the Long Neck: painting by Parmigianino
Madonna dal collo lungo (ca. 1534–1540)
(The Madonna With the Long Neck)

Publisher’s Note:

Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola (1503–1540), commonly known as Parmigianino, was an Italian Mannerist painter and printmaker active in Florence, Rome, Bologna, and his native city of Parma. (Source: Wikipedia.)

The oil-on-wood painting above is also known as Madonna and Long Child With Angels and St. Jerome, and depicts the Madonna and Child with angels. Begun in 1534 for the funerary chapel of Francesco Tagliaferri, the painting remained unfinished upon Parmigianino’s death in 1540. Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663–1713), Grand Prince of Tuscany, purchased the painting in 1698, and it has been on display at the Uffizi art museum in Florence since 1948.

Image above was downloaded on 22 September 2021 from the public domain via Wikipedia.

Ruth Bavetta’s
Issue 10, October 2021

poems have appeared in Rattle, Nimrod, North American Review, Slant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Her fifth book will be published in 2022. She has been an Associate Editor for Good Works Review and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism, and sauerkraut.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Two Poems in Atticus Review: “Love in Our Eighth and Ninth Decades” (15 January 2020) and “Later Than I Thought” (30 October 2019)

I Am Anything in Rattle (11 January 2009)

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