by Elizabeth Jennings
She had not held her secret long enough
To covet it but wished it shared as though
Telling it would tame the terrifying moment
When she, most calm in her own afternoon,
Felt the intrepid angel, heard
His beating wings, his voice across her prayer.
This was the thing she needed to impart
The uncalm moment, the strange interruption,
The angel bringing pain disguised as joy,
But mixed with this was something she could share
And not abandon, simply how
A child sprang in her like the first of seeds.
And in the stillness of that other day
The afternoon exposed its emptiness,
Shadows adrift from light, the long road turning
In a dry sequence of the sun. And she
No apprehensive figure seemed,
Only a moving silence through the land.
And all her journeying was a caressing
Within her mind of secrets to be spoken.
The simple fact of birth soon overshadowed
The shadow of the angel. When she came
Close to her cousin’s house she kept
Only the message of her happiness.
And those two women in their quick embrace
Gazed at each other with looks undisturbed
By men or miracles. It was the child
Who laid his shadow on their afternoon
By stirring suddenly, by bringing
Back the broad echoes of those beating wings.