The Risk of Birth

This is no time for a child to be born,

With the earth betrayed by war & hate

And a nova lighting the sky to warn

That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,

In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;

Honour & truth were trampled by scorn—

Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?

The inn is full on the planet earth,

And by greed & pride the sky is torn—

Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

—Madeleine L’Engle

After Annunciation

This is the irrational season

When love blooms bright and wild.

Had Mary been filled with reason

There’d have been no room for the child.

—Madeleine L’Engle

Mary’s Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast

keep warm this small hot naked star

fallen to my arms. (Rest …

you who have had so far

to come.) Now nearness satisfies

the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies

whose vigor hurled

a universe. He sleeps

whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems

no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps

to sprout a world.

Charmed by doves’ voices, the whisper of straw,

he dreams,

hearing no music from his other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes

he is curtailed

who overflowed all skies,

all years.

Older than eternity, now he

is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed

to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,

blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,

brought to this birth

for me to be new-born,

and for him to see me mended

I must see him torn.

Luci Shaw

Made Flesh

After the bright beam of hot annunciation

fused heaven with dark earth

his searing sharply-focused light

went out for a while

eclipsed in amniotic gloom:

his cool immensity of splendor

his universal grace

small-folded in a warm dim

female space

the Word stem-sentenced

to be nine months ...

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