For Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
–Handel’s Messiah (from Isaiah, chapter 60)
Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb, / Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.
-John Donne “La Corona”
We are all some mother’s child,
all born through great pain,
then a flood of release, an unbearable empty.
I sang a broken song, a wail of psalm
until you came. We were cold, alone,
this man who will raise you, and I.
No mother, no midwife, one blanket,
a borrowed pot of water on the fire.
Did I not expect you would cry with me,
you who had willed every infant’s cry?
Did I not expect you would need me,
your body suddenly cold, craving my skin?
You bobbed your head along my chest
in search of milk: ordinary, human.
Where were the trumpets, where the showering
of gold? We three were hushed in the dark,
my blood trickling to the ground, my husband’s silent tears,
your infant body learning to swallow.
And in this, somehow, Glory.
My God, you deserve more than the two of us,
torn open and shivering with you in the dark.