Friday, October 2, 2009

A Contest, and the Mary Triptych (Part 1)

Over at Seedlings in Stone, L.L. Barkat is giving away a copy of The Real Mary by Scot McKnight, who makes a Protestant case for Mary with the theological controversies stripped away. Check out what L.L. says about the book and leave a comment here, and you’re automatically in the contest, which will last until next Thursday evening. The winner will also be offered the opportunity to guest post on BeliefNet.

In the meantime, here’s the first of three “Triptych poems” about the mother of Jesus. The second will be posted Monday, and the third next Thursday.

May It Be to Me

Came in a swirl of scented,
Dry wind.
Do not fear, you have found favor.
May it be to me.

The angel did not tell what I would see
Upon my Joseph’s face,
Worse than anger, searing my soul,
Tearing my heart.
Not a rich man, a good man with
Good hands and heart,
He chose me of all Nazareth.
The man every village mother wanted as a son.
Joseph chose me of all in Nazareth.
The Lord chose me of all in Israel.

My Joseph’s eyes.
The angel, I said.
Disbelief on my Joseph’s face,
His hands clenching into fists of pain.
The angel spoke, I said; the Spirit came.

A divorce, my Joseph said.
Quietly; I will not humiliate you,
My Joseph said I love you too much.
He went to weep the hurt
Into the quiet of his mat.

The angel dreamed my Joseph.
Then he knew,
Taking me as wife with joy,
Protecting the child,
Loving the mother.

My Joseph held the baby bathed in blood.
He cut the cord of life to separate life.
He lifted him up.
My tear-stained Joseph set him in my arms
And whispered,

May it be to me.

Triptych, Bartolomeo Vivarini, 1460s, egg tempera on wood, Metropolitan Museum of New York. The side panels illustrate various scenes in the life of Mary.


Maureen said...


How beautiful!

Without stripping away the reverence or the aura (and awe), you succeed in creating powerful visual images of what passes between Mary and Joseph, making them both like us and wholly unlike us: "good hands and heart"; "fists of pain"; "weep the hurt/into the quiet of his mat"--too many good lines to re-quote here. Conflicting emotions, deep tenderness, loving Mary enough to accept that which sears his heart: your portrait of Joseph gives him standing.

I love the echo of the refrain "May it be to me".

Several years ago I saw an extraordinary film on Mary's story, produced by Muslim filmmakers. I had no idea until then of Mary's importance to followers of Islam. She is revered. I was told her name appears in the Koran more often than in our Bible. The film sparked a lively post-show discussion with the Muslim women's group that was our host.

Jennifer @ said...

"He went to weep the hurt
Into the quiet of his mat"

And a whispered, "Jeshua" ...

Oh Glynn, I want to see how you see.

L.L. Barkat said...

I chose the same that Jennifer did...

"He went to weep the hurt
Into the quiet of his mat."

Ah, but the whole is lovely.

Monica Sharman said...

"The angel did not tell what I would see / Upon my Joseph's face"
Ooh, I never thought of that before.

Your poetry floors me. Didn't I read at LL's place or somewhere that you are new to poetry? Oh, my. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

oh, you took a look from the perspective of mary. well done.