The National Catholic Review

The morning the Mother of God
Loved and dreaded the message of an angel.

—Thomas Merton

As she lay down in her room in her father’s house,
Not far from the well of that village nearby the trade routes
Between Gennesaret to the East and the sea to the West,

This daughter of Joachim recounted the days of her childhood,
Then followed them forward like stepping stones
Through the terrain that brought her forth into this night

When she entered sleep and dream, not as child but as woman,
Into her fifteenth year, betrothed to a carpenter
With the lineage of kings.

Then, near dawn, before the faintest first light, startled
And troubled, she woke breathless, heaving as if already in labor
With child; weeping,

As if already a mother losing her first-born son to this man
And that man to his fulfillment. She rose. She trembled and tasted
Her tears in the dark, fearful of the dream she had no words for.

In an instant, as if midday preceded daybreak in a flash,
A light, like no other, opened the darkness like fire devouring
Tent cloth. And from out of the brightest center of that brilliance

Entered a man not her betrothed and not her father and she
Reeled from the presence and fretted as his voice, more the sounds
Of music than of speech, gave words to her dream,

Addressing each of her objections with the logic that faith
Bears the evidence of what cannot be seen. And in the starry
Wake of his departure, into the lighter dawn,

She drew her clothes around her, against the morning chill,
And wept for the precious, terrible miracle she must bear.


Thomas Gibbs’s work has appeared in ByLine, Concho River Review, Et Cetera, Free Forum, Jefferson Review and LEO.

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