The Mary Poems, Part Two



The city shimmers in the heat,

flies drone around our eyes.


We’re frantic for my eldest son

in this city of soldiers and thieves.


I follow my husband to Solomon’s Porch

where the old men argue their laws


and here is my son among them.

His deepening voice breaks over me:


Mother, he says, you should have known.

Oh, my son, I know;   I knew.



On this mountain

my mother told me

what the moon tells–

how we fill and fade,


the rhythm of her tides.



I lift the moon

to light the house

where my mother lies,

a sliver of white.


The cold moon

burns my fingers.


I let her go.



Joseph, my husband, your body my temple,

Joseph, father of my children, you are

a stag leaping high on the hills,

the sun rises between your horns.


I am the vine, behold my branches;

your fruits will ripen in season:


Jesus, welcomed by angels and kings —

your hands are callused by hammer and saw.

May you grow into your wisdom.

and your people find shelter in the shadow of your wings.


Sara, my daughter, you will rule a great house.

Your husband will love you, your children sing your praise.

The earth will bloom beneath your feet;

your flowers will grow in pleasant places.


James, you have my father’s eyes.

Justice flows from your lips like honey.

You stand on a tower of stone,

holding your brother in your heart.


Simon, your laugh awakens the birds,

they rustle their tiny wings in tune.

Your joy will fill the hollows in the hills;

before you, sorrow will flee away.


Joseph, my baby, you are wakeful

and your little teeth are sharp.

You will teach me to bless you as you grow.


Tendrils wind green around the branches,

I lift the cup and drink new wine.

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