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Mother Of God

Mary knew neither the pleasure nor the pain of sex,
But she understood the terror of being visited by angels
And the more straightforward agonies of childbirth.
In this way, she is, at the same time,
Elevated above us, and yet, still one of us.
At least, that is what I’ve been led to believe.

This Mary, before me and above me,
With her inscrutable plaster face
Not exactly smiling down on me
Could only have been carved by a man:
A man with his dreams of sacrifice
And the unemotional purity of duty;
A monk or a priest, perhaps,
But certainly not a man who understood women.

I want to understand her, this mother of God,
For all our children are holy in some way, aren’t they?
I want to know what she felt:
Not the mythical immaculate virgin,
But the real flesh and guts woman,
With her milk stained tunics
And work worn hands.

I want to know the Mary who copulated,
Not with angels, but with her man.
Did she lie back like the sacrificial lamb,
A vessel, bravely thinking of Jerusalem?
Or was she something more?
This mother of the Christ-child
And all his sisters and brothers?
For all her periods and pregnancies,
Did she get to understand the rhythm of the Earth?
Did she ever ride on top, a Goddess,
Enraptured with her own sweet self?

There are no marks, no scars on her plaster skin,
No clues, but if this Mary could speak,
She would say naught of her self
But speak only of other women’s sorrows,
For she has seen
A passing procession of womanhood
Of all ages, of all races, before her
And she has heard every story
That ever a woman could have told.

I behold her stony, silent eyes.
They look down upon me, upon my pram
With its cargo of sleepy flesh:
My baby, with her colic and pain;
My off-spring, my offering
With her sad-eyed, unknowing yearning
For a father who is as distant
As a Holy Ghost.

I offer up my pain, my prayers, my doubts
As a myriad have done before me,
Hoping that the Mary who bled milk and tears,
The Mary who worked the home and the fields,
Will somehow be able to hear me.

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