“Clothing Statues”

Leger, Fernand- 1921

Clothing Statues

It’s not so much the copper fig leaves
as the red velvet sleeves
I wonder at–the belled robe on the
enamel-faced Madonna, the trim of
seed pearls edged by rough
stitching, while wedged
below the carved curls
of a wooden Christ the drape
of sateen cape, doubling some
seasons for the Babe’s bright

Further East (or West), Buddha’s
bronze chest is vested
winters in knitted wool; while Vishnu
sports an orange bib; silk
scarfs, marigold
collect blessings.

Cozy icons, divine
mufflers – when heaven’s chill
descends, we rub our arms
with cupped palms.


I am posting the above for The Mag (134), which features a pictorial prompt hosted by Tess Kincaid.  The poem was inspired by the Fernand Leger painting above – which felt to me like a sculpture with a black muffler.  The poem itself concerns the practice of clothing religious statues – pretty common both in Christian churches (especially Catholic) and in Buddhist and Hindu shrines. 

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23 Comments on ““Clothing Statues””

  1. Blue Flute Says:

    Madonna’s tears
    in charcoal ink—
    Vishnu, Buddha. Jesus Christ.

    Lovely poem to go with the painting. It reminded me of the Adam & Eve paintings and the Venus painting with her hands providing the “clothing”

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ah! Your comment is its own poem – you know, I wanted to bring in the doll aspect but I was only able to work on the poem late at night, so went with what I had. Thanks for your lovely comment. k.

  2. clawfish Says:

    Interesting and vivid it married to the picture well

  3. Dick Jones Says:

    Delightful – a motif followed through with confidence and style. Just right.

  4. Berowne Says:

    Unusual iconic response to some icons – well written.

  5. brian miller Says:

    ha bretty cool verse k…pondering at the clothes of the gods…cozy icons, divine mufflers….i like that much….

  6. David King Says:

    This is a brilliant direction in which to take the reader. I agree it looks like a black muffler. I thoroughly enjoyed the meander among your statues – and even more the clever internal rhymes.

  7. Susan Says:

    “scarfs, marigold
    collect blessings.”
    I love this explanation of the phenomena in your descriptions.
    In Mexican/Mayan/Christian churches, the statues/dolls are also clothed but differently in each town to show what changes in the fashion will appear that year. It is a lovely custom that makes a whole people holy but not all alike.

  8. Kutamun Says:

    Hey this is very magical , Manic, Gods of all stripes in a pullover, ! , must be a chill . Thanks

  9. janehewey Says:

    I enjoy this fresh and playful poem. Madonna, Christ, Buddha, and Vishnu all together in One. Your closing lines -we rub our arms/ with cupped palms- bring about such a tactile sensation I suddenly feel part of the artwork myself.

  10. Tess Kincaid Says:

    I’m so ready for a bit of heaven’s chill…come come sweet October…excellent, intelligent write, as always, K…

  11. Linda Fraser Says:

    Oh, there is a plethora of interesting directions in your poem, and I really did love the journey! The textures you wrote into this work were truly divine. Thank you for writing and sharing this, K. =D

  12. wayne Says:

    very nice indeed…lovely to read…thanks for sharing your words

  13. hedgewitch Says:

    I’m pretty sure the ancient Egyptians and the Romans did this too–the usual anthropomorphism we seem to need to put on everything in order to relate. I like the way your poem makes us both one with and separate from the gods–we tend and clothe them, they give us chills and palms. Very original and fun to read.

  14. What an interesting take on the prompt.
    And yes, to me it looked like a muffler as well.
    Nice to hook into other styles of painting.

  15. Helen Says:

    Fascinating! Quite the unique interpretation ~ through your eyes.

  16. hypercryptical Says:

    Wonderful clever take on the prompt – love where you took it.

    Anna :o]

  17. margaretbednar Says:

    What an original take on this prompt. I love religious icons and I have seen them “bedazzled” with flowers and garments (which usually makes them look a bit tacky, but the sentiment is well intentioned).

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