The Angel Gabriel Talks Annunciation to Mary
Before he’s said a word,
even as he bends the knee and rears his
wings in golden branches that wow them every time
(the more the little peasant is impressed, the faster this will be)
his eye is mournfully absorbed in what he sees.
She’s still a child, he can smell
honey and dairy on her, and just now she secretly
put out a finger in wonder to touch a feather.
Gabriel lugs the huge gold nugget words Messiah baby
into the conversation early, dazzles those big eyes:
but he saves the awkward
Crucifixion, with its spiky thorns,
for later, or never. Also, wrong time to mention
five wounds, or drop those bricks
lash, wood, nail, storm, tomb.
Leave it to life to tell her. After all, he’s not lying:
she will bear the main earthman of all time.
She’ll lose him, but
time chars all our beloveds.
Gabriel sighs just once.
Then like the whip-length of snake who first sold Eve the apple
he fixes Mary with a gaze
bright and old as quartz in granite:
Have I got a sweet deal for you.
Editor's note: This poem was written as a meditation on the painting, Annunciation, by contemporary American artist John Collier. We were unable to contact the artist to show his work here, but encourage you to click this link to see the remarkable art that inspired the poet.
Margaret Benbow: "I'm a poet and fiction writer. My first collection of poems, Stalking Joy, won the
Walt McDonald First Book Award and was published by TTUP press. A collection of stories, Boy Into Panther, recently won the Many Voices Project Award in Fiction and was published earlier this year by New Rivers Press."
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