Each day this week, I’ll be sharing from a series of five Advent poems I wrote for John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle. I hope they will bless you as you prepare for the coming of Christmas.
The Lord is With Thee
-from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1
They hail me Mary, full of grace.
They bless me: brave, obedient—holy.
What would you have said to the twelve-foot,
light-soaked man, a gold flecked tower
whose honey lips spoke your name? I said Yes.
Then ran, traveled days, silent, hungry,
purging in the grass, to my cousin’s.
I knew nowhere else to go.
I found Elizabeth, impossibly, full
with child. She, fifty and bare, as pregnant
as I, thirteen, unknown. We, an absurd pair.
Did I hope she would recognize my angel tale,
believe for me what I hardly could?
The Lord is with thee, she said.
Her baby soared inside.
Her face was vague to my memory.
What I recalled was her voice: in candlelight,
she once tucked me under wool with my sisters,
sang us to sleep with poems of Yahweh.
How easily she spoke of God,
as if he were a neighbor, a fish vendor on the street.
Blessed art thou among women. Blessed is the fruit
of thy womb. For three months she hid me
from rumors, from my angry betrothed.
I took walks. I threw up. I ate.
Robes can only hide so much.
Then I stood beside the midwife, water basin
in hand while my cousin squatted and screamed.
I knew what my Yes meant this body must do
and wept for myself, for this child of God
given to my clumsy care.
Who am I? I once said to Elizabeth
after dinner, beside our fire. I am small
and weak in faith. She placed her palm
on my cheek, whispered, You’re God’s.