Mary Remembers The Flight into Egypt
The smell of myrrh, like death, clings to my hair,
while Joseph scans each tree for Herod’s spies—
and anguish is the incense of our prayer.
Our bag is packed with tribute from The Wise,
but I’ve forgotten all that gleams within—
although that gold will lighten our escape.
Keeping my child close against my skin,
my arms defend his warm and rounded shape.
For on this night of kings, Bethlehem bleeds.
The stars above me stare like children’s eyes,
a constellation shaped in grievous deeds.
The three men found my son by those same skies.
And my epiphany is that this flight
begins one lifelong sacrificial night.
From Sacred Braille
The Crucifixion, Through the Eyes of the Good Thief
It was the only good thing I had known
in all my life—to die beside my God.
Before now, hate was all that I’d been shown.
I was a sinner, stealer and a fraud.
My arms were forced apart, splayed out in fear.
His arms opened in love—willing embrace.
I wished that I could bend and bow, revere
his feet, then wipe the blood from his good face.
Instead I called across the space between
his cross and mine—and that was oceans wide.
For he was innocence. His heart was clean
and knew how I had hated, envied, lied.
And yet he promised me today. Today.
The world had told me, Leave. God told me, Stay.
From Sacred Braille
Since Christ Himself was visiting my house,
I wanted to prepare my greatest dish.
I labored at the stove and meant to douse
the lamb with wine; instead, I drowned the fish.
“He might have let me know when he'd drop by,”
I whispered as I swept the kitchen clean,
and I let out a pitiable sigh.
Where was my sister Mary in this scene?
I searched, and found her sitting at Christ's feet,
delighted by each story that he'd start.
I asked if she would help me serve the meat,
but Jesus said she'd picked the better part.
And so I joined my sister at his side–
and Jesus took the burned meal quite in stride.
Polishing the Wingtips
At night, my grandfather
would get his kit
to shine his wing-tip shoes.
He'd brush and buff,
polish and smooth.
And while he'd work, he'd sit
in his rocker and pray–
a discipline to clean
the soul, as though he knew
the place he stood upon
was holy ground
as he reached
Blue Willow Plates
Those childhood nights I ate at your table, where life's mysteries were broken and shared—I studied the blue willow plates you set each night.
Even during the worst winter,
my fork swept potatoes, gravy, bits of savory meat
and uncovered a story.
Each night I told myself a different tale, cast in the familiar pattern—
there were pagodas, fences, shining waterways
and a boat with a figure searching the horizon.
But what kind of wind made the willow fronds splay so far apart?
Who were the three figures holding lanterns on a bridge?
And why was the pair of birds larger than the strife below?
You fed me from willow-patterned dishes
when I didn't think I could eat—
when my father was dying, and daffodils were frozen under snow.
But always on your plates
flying above the relentless searching—
two birds, facing each other, wings arched in triumph.
That winter, in blue and white patterns,
the Holy Spirit, in its many-feathered glory
descended on each dish you placed before me.
Take the Time
Along the way, take time to smell the flowers—
a sign said in the hallway of the stairs
of my grandmother's house.
So every morning, when she would wake
and journey down to breakfast,
she was reminded of the holy pause—
that comes with noticing the beauty unexpected—
even in the busyness of things.
And so, even while care-giving, her rounds
of cleaning, cooking, gathering the trash
accumulated from his medicines,
boxes of tissues, cans of supplements—
the pilgrim badges of a sacrifice,
both hers and his— his offering up the cross of pain,
her carrying the wooden beam of it in turns—
When she'd emerge from the house where he slept, to carry bags of trash out to the road—
whether on nights of crickets or of snow,
she'd lift her neck and search the sky for stars,
a breath of heaven's garden in the sky—
Ephphatha, Be opened— while deaf and mute
with tiredness and dread, she'd watch the moon
sigh with the constellations, take the time.