On Viewing Inferno of the Innocents


Poised on the edge of the bed
she sits in sharp light,
pointed feet barely touching
the dim floor.

Through fear-filled, furrowed brow
she stares at the encroaching shadow.

I want to protect her, reach into the canvas
and take her home,
adopt her
make her my grand-daughter
hold her safe and warm
make her whole
watch her dance
in the golden morning.

As I despair
another little girl approaches the painting,
and broadly smiles in recognition,
nodding to this new-found playmate.

She knows how morning light
always pushes back
the black night.

Author’s Note: to see the powerful, heartbreaking works of Gottfried Helnwein, visit his website athttp://www.helnwein.com/


7 thoughts on “On Viewing Inferno of the Innocents

  1. have fun, support by visiting a dozen entries starting from the latest one, go backwards, 226, 225, 224, ….214..

    your input is appreciated.

  2. Greetings!

    Thanks for the lovely contribution to potluck on week 25,

    week 26 is open NOW, we treasury your poetry

    and welcome you in in your personal convenience…old poems are welcome!


  3. You are into a powerful stream here, Steven. I especially like this poem. It has a certain mystery to it that heightens the humanity at the core of so many of your Merton quotes and your poems. Who is the girl? What picture? What circumstance makes you want to rescue the girl, to make her your grandchild? Then the idea of the other child recognizing the light of the girl in the picture. Good work.

    • Thanks for the wonderful response, Thomas. I should have posted an image of the painting described. I saw this in Sacramento at the Crocker Museum last year in an exhibit of Gottfried Helnwein…. a remarkable, powerful, heartbreaking artist who is passionate about the youngest victims.

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