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Bare Breasted Madonna

 Bare Breasted Madonna

A frazzled young woman with her baby pushed through the crowded bus. A man got out of his seat. “Prego, signora,” he said. She said “Grazie,” and sat down. Her baby squirmed, tilted its head back, and howled. An old woman sitting next to her smiled; they exchanged knowing glances. The baby continued howling as the woman shifted it from one arm to another.

Young mother unbuttoned her blue shirt, and did something with her bra that exposed her nipple. Baby eagerly suckled. With her forefinger mother gently stroked the flesh above her nipple, to help increase the flow of her milk. The old woman nodded, as if to say yes, that’s what the child needed. Another young woman standing next to me had what seemed like an envious look on her face. Or maybe it was admiration, or longing.

I sensed there was a profound kinship among the women on that crowded bus, a shared knowledge. And I was an outsider. No, more than that. I was an alien creature who could never know the experience of giving birth, nor of the sensation of a baby suckling my breast.

Mom said she breast-fed both Jack and me, but I don’t remember the experience. Such an essential act of nurturing—forgotten. But then my love for her and her for me had never been doubted.

A man sitting nearby read his paper. Teenaged boys whispered conspiratorially. I continued watching the young mother stroking her breast with her forefinger as her infant suckled. Baby raised his chubby little hand and put it down again, and shuddered gently with contentment. Mother gazed down, knowingly.

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Didn't one of the Masters depict the infant Jesus with a ring made from his own foreskin?

That would be interesting to track down. St. Catherine of Siena is alleged to have said somewhere in her volumnious "dialogs" that she became a bride of Christ, and that he had given her a ring made of his prepuce. But wading through all of those mystical ramblings of hers I was not able to locate it, nor is any mention made of this in Encyclopedia Brittanica or elsewhere.

Re: His Alleged Prepuce

I'll have to ask my uncle the art historian.

Re: His Alleged Prepuce

Let me know what he comes up with!

(Deleted comment)
Thanks. And congratulations on your debut in AP. Give yourself permission to exult for, say, three days. Then get back to work, and try to recall your state of mind as you were writing that beautiful piece.

Either It Is, or It Isn't

To all the mothers with breast-feeding experience out there in LJ land: Was the young mother stroking her breast with her forefinger to increase the flow of her milk? I'd like to delete the word "apparently."

Re: Either It Is, or It Isn't

"Was the young mother stroking her breast with her forefinger to increase the flow of her milk?"

Yes, she very well could have been... massaging or stroking the breast encourages the milk to flow more freely.

Re: Either It Is, or It Isn't

Thanks! Now I can take out "apparently!"

why not just take out the whole clause?

apparently ... milk.

Unless, maybe you want to suggest other motives?

Nice fresco.

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