The Presentation in the Temple by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet, the painting in the Smith College Museum of Art that hath inspired this poem. It depicts the Biblical story of presentation of Jesus in the temple, with a mournful-looking woman in the lower left-hand corner.Another one from my summer at Smith, but a poem this time!
This is one of my favorites from the poetry I wrote at the Smith workshop. We took a field trip to the Smith College Museum of Art and came up with poem ideas based the paintings we saw, then went back to the classroom and wrote them. There are probably twenty other ideas that I wrote down, but this is the only one that has actually been written (so far).
For some reason, it was ridiculously hard to find an image file on the internet of this painting. 1) Jouvenet painted two "Presentation in the Temple"s, the other of which is more well-known; 2) I had been spelling his name wrong for half of my search; and 3) those that I did find had watermarks on them. But I did find it eventually, so here it is in all its glory.
Enough of my rambling, which is probably longer than the poem itself. Enjoy!
(after The Presentation in the Temple by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet)
There are angels hovering 'round
to carry the tidings home
of a new Jerusalem and a prophet for the ages,
blessed at birth,
bathed in light.
And as all look on, trembling with awe,
everyone forgets that you were there.
The angels hover just feet away,
but not for you,
not for your child.
A presence rushes through the room
like a mighty wind from heaven.
Ice-cold air descends, settling into your bones
and you know it to be God.
But you just drop your gaze
and stare at the patterns on the temple floor,
pretending not to care
while, down deep, wondering
if there will ever be angels for you.