Mary Remembers Angel Wings

Highly favoured, so the angel said,
And riding, pregnant, through the winter snow
I laughed as his words echoed in my head,
My laughter fading fast. I did not know

Why this must be; all that I could have told
To anyone enquiring of me, "Why?"
Was that an angel bright, with wings of gold
Commanded me. God's will. Well, you just try

Telling that one to strangers. No, no place
At any inns in town; they shook their heads,
Not trying to keep suspicion from their face
Or from their minds. Safe in unknowing beds

They slept that night, while I lay in the cold,
Blank with pain and fear. I held the child,
While strangers brought him precious gifts of gold,
incense and myrrh. You know. The night was wild,

The wind was screaming loud outside the stall,
But still I heard the singing from the sky,
The heavenly choir. Goodwill to one and all;
And angel-wings. So bright. I did not cry

Then, but when the others had all gone;
My head on Joseph's shoulder, and my hand
Twisting, twisting in my cloak. God's Son
Let out a baby's cry. I held him and

I murmured mother's words. I felt his eyes
Staring at my soul. I wondered, then,
What timeless, ageless pain was in his cries,
What he had suffered. Saviour of men,

The Lord made flesh - and yet how small he seemed,
How small. And yet I feared that knowing stare,
That omnipresent smile. I never dreamed,
In Nazareth, of such a firstborn. There,

I was a woman yet untouched by men
Or by God's hand. My mother did not warn
Me not to speak to angels. Way back then,
Life was so simple - now, a child is born,

A leader - they will follow when he calls,
I said, and felt a mother's natural pride,
Guiltily, within those humble walls.
It was my right. He'd understand. Beside

The manger bed, the cattle nosed the hay,
Enquiring. He appeared to love them all,
The cows, the sheep and donkeys. As he lay
And watched them from his bed there in the stall,

He gurgled happy noises. I knew not
What He said. Later, I would understand,
And realise it did not matter what
The child said. Again, my pale hand

Twisting, twisting, twisting. And the wings
That filled the winter darkness. And the star
That shone so bright. Each time a choir sings
I will remember angels. From afar

Came three wise men, that much I can recall;
A child was born. A cry, there in the night;
The Lord's hand on my womb. And after all,
What did it matter if the air was white

With angel-wings? A child is a child,
And God's ways can be strange. And after all,
Was I not still his mother, meek and mild?
Frightened of the babe within the stall

Yet loving him as only a mother can;
And after all - but what is done is done.
Woman, mother, part of God's great plan,
I can but ask forgiveness. Oh, my son,

My Lord and saviour, would that you were still
A babe in arms, before the blood and tears,
The agony, the cross. It is God's will.
And yet I wish I could turn back the years,

To Bethlehem. That night. That painful birth,
As cold as footsteps in the virgin snow.
Those wings. They haunt me still - and was it worth
The fear? The pain? I will never know.

Written 24.12.95

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