THE MARY POEMS: Part One

ANNUNCIATION

I have always been afraid of him,
unspeakable, so far away.
He hears my heart beat in my breast.
He will not let me be.

Here on this mountain
in the dark, the darkness speaks my name
and I answer.  I consent.
He fills my skull, my bones, my womb.

We melt into the rock.  Silence
overtakes.  All the light is gone.

JUSTICE

I am soft like dust after rain.
In me a curving leaf unfolds.

I remember stones for killing,
fury of possession, revenge for loving.

I know that Joseph is good.
I pray he is not just.

JOSEPH

He met me as I walked alone
on the dusty road to the hills.
He stood still beside me
under the hard blue sky.
He took my bundle of things
and said that he would carry it.
He took my hands in his.
His hands and arms are very strong.
His eyes are full of sorrow
and all my fear is gone.

VISITATION

Elizabeth came laughing to greet me.
Who are we?
Women together.
A late fruit ripens in her center,
pushes hard against my belly.

I am a glass that holds the sun,
Earth that holds the hidden seed.
She is Sarah,
the old one who laughed.

We are the One who sows and reaps
the One who turns bread to flesh.
We are new wineskins stretching vast;
filled with everything.

BIRTH

The cave smells of donkeys and sweat.
My belly is hard like stone.

I close myself and open to heaven
pounding its skull on my door.

The waters have risen up to my neck;
The spirit broods heavy over my head
and with a roaring rush of wings
I am the strength of time.

Alone in eternity
I birth this child.

Under the earth, I hear our voice.
The new creation slips from my body
into the hungry world.

SHEPHERDS

A ragged woman stands at the door,
her small daughter, bare-armed in the cold,
her thin weary man with a lamb on his back.

They call them Dirt people, 
worthless people, always looking 
for something to steal.  But tonight

they wear their dust like jewels.
Down from the hills they’ve come,
longing for their mother, seeking her son.

My son opens his eyes on them.
I open my arms and gather them in.

STAR

Hard and gold,
it follows us,
hissing
through my sleep.

MAGI

They came–exotic caravan–
in scarlet and purple and bells–

Magi seeking wisdom and life,
a sapling sprung from deepest roots,

a key to joy, the rising sun–
hope of all the world.

They found their answer
clinging to my skirt.

Their shadows whispered in the night.
In the morning they were gone

leaving broken flowers,
a little midden of pits and bones.

RACHEL

My husband’s dream:
a woman wept.
Dead children
piled in bloody heaps.

We run
so my son will live.
Now I dream
her tears.

EGYPT

All I want are the hills of home,
the scent of almond blossoms,
rain.

THE SONG OF SIMEON

My baby and my husband sleep.
By the window I watch alone,

holding the moon like a lamp in my hand.
The old man said a sword would pierce me.

A sword pierced the dragon in the void,
flamed before the forbidden tree.

In the cold moonlight on the hills
the fowlers set their nets.

A sword, he said.  My eyes have seen.
And in my basket the pigeons cooed.

NAZARETH

I’ve swept our house.
The pomegranate tree is in flower.
Joseph is building a table.
My son builds cities
in the dust by the door.

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