Monday, October 5, 2009

Mary Triptych (Part 2): He Had to Be

The book giveaway contest continues over at Seedlings in Stone until Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern time. A winner will be picked at random to receive a copy of Scot McKnight’s The Real Mary and have the opportunity to write a guest post for BeliefNet. Just leave a comment here and you’re automatically in the drawing.

Here’s the second of the three “Triptych poems” I’ve written by Mary. The third will be posted on Thursday.

He Had to Be

Passover feast
In the city of peace.
Somber time,
Tinged with joy,
To celebrate salvation,
From the angel of death
In Goshen, in all Egypt.
My Joseph paid the price,
Bought the lamb,
Brought the lamb
To the priests.

Home, to Galilee,
Traveling the day.
I look for the child.
With you, Martha?
Hannah, with you?
With you? With you?
My heart, frozen.
We go back,
My Joseph and I,
Back to the city of peace,
The now feast-less city.

Three days we
Seek, seek
No child; vanished.
A tiny whisper, then;
A small rumor,
A torrent of reports,
An explosion of wonder
At the child
In the courts of the priests.
Sitting with teachers,
Listening to rabbis,
Questioning priests,
Amazing with his answers,
His truth before truths.
My Joseph and I knew.
I had to be
In my father’s house,
He said to us I had to be.

A bearded man, he
Amazed crowds
With words, miracles, healings
Of body and soul.
We heard the whispers,
The muted voices,
The low roar,
The rising anger against him.
We came to warn,
To stop,
His brothers and I.
Like everyone else
We wanted to touch and be healed.
And protect.

You are my mother
And brothers, he said
To others.
In his dark eyes,
The eyes of my child,
I saw the depth
Of the infinity
Of the truth he spoke.
And my son was
Not my son.

Triptych with Virgin and Child, Anonymous, Late 17th century, Ethiopian, Walters Art Museum, New York.


Maureen said...

An elegaic one this is, and perfectly titled.

I like in particular the last stanza. You build to it and then culminate with Mary's loss, with what "had to be":

"And my son was/Not my son."

The profound awareness, truth "tinged with joy" and reluctantly accepted.

"He Had to Be"

L.L. Barkat said...


"Bought the lamb,
Brought the lamb
To the priests."

and I love how "priests" rhymes with "peace"... a subtle rhyme because of placement.

I love the idea of Mary too wanting to be healed. And the bittersweet recognition of my son/not my son (maybe we all have such recognition at some level when our children move outwards into the world?)

Anonymous said...

ohhh good