Eh Mary

Reprinted from The Common Good, No 31, Advent 2004

the blessed virgin this Christmas has a raging headache
she’s lost half her left armpit
and some of her breast
her right arm’s got tangled up in a bloody accident
and has thirteen pins

she can’t make the cheese anymore anymore
not how she used to anyway
her three cherubs helpful
her gentle husband heroic
maybe she can write the odd letter sometime into the air
but not yet she can’t even think of that

they say that upset comes from disappointed expectations
if you don’t expect
to have a good right arm and an even breast
then it won’t cut into you so bad so hard

but the pain cuts into her like a knife
she can’t even butter her bread
or cut the lettuce for a salad
that would make her feel maybe slightly better
the headache rages through her over and over inside and out
she tries to get something sane together
but she can’t not yet under the stars

so she just waits and hopes out the advent
in a starry sort of way and wonders and watches closely
the birds flying
the fruit ripening to its fullness
she wonders if this is the sort of ripening you’d expect
without these parts of your body whole and full and blooming

she can’t move around much in the old way
time is changed and different from what she’s ever known
the pain doesn’t always leave
often it stays with her long into the night
it’s difficult even making love the way she used to

yet the sky is still radiant blue
the wind blowing gently
the tree smelling of pine the wreath
the advent candles white and rose and white

the buds of the Christmas lilies green
and make ready to flower
and she’s still and always the Blessed Virgin
she sits with the family and eats
with a little help unwraps her presents

after all she is still here
and brilliantly alive
the star radiant in the sky
the baby coming like he always does
full of love

by Kathleen Gallagher

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