It is the winter of 1999
and Sister Wendy has had a wonderful idea
to select and present a new painting of Jesus
-a kind of gift for Christ
on the last Nativity-
in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter.
If I would choose Degas' bourgeois child-molester,
above the green corpse on Grunewald's altar
it is because Jesus is not the cause of our grief.
And, if I'd want a portrait by Whistler,
over Leonardo's 'Salvator'-
it's because He's not the cure, either.
If I prefer a girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer
before a gamboge gargoyle by Gaugin-
it is because we are not the cause of His grief.
And I'd be with the genteel girls of Sargent
instead of match-stick figures from Matisse-
because we aren't the cure for His grief.
It is because Christ (like us) just doesn't
need a new museum piece
-in heaven Jesus has everything.
It is because this is what Art teaches
-all our love is here on earth,
all our mornings in this world.