The Swaddling Clothes
In this, she is no exception: Mother Mary
swaddles her newborn boy, to help the child
recall the opiate confines of the womb
and so give in, again, to primal sleep
untroubled by any man or beast or fire.
In the same way, she wraps herself in red--
simple cloths run through with exquisite threads
of her own sundered flesh. Her fingertips,
hesitant, entwine above her belly,
soft and swollen still with his absence.
She turns away her face, her visitors
left unnoticed. Let them believe the child
came from something purer than themselves,
she prays. Let them see a holy apparition
in his slumber. She keeps her eyes on him,
vigilant: In this, Mother Mary is no exception.
One rustle and she’ll scoop the child up,
return him to her breast before he wakes
with whimpering cries of naive indignation
at the snow-white sham of swaddling clothes.
Andrea L. Hackbarth
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