Accompanied by Angels

Stars and angels filled the night of Jesus' birth. Experience the miracle through poems about Mary and Christmas.

BY: Luci Shaw


The Annunciatory Angel


detail of Fra Angelico’s

The Annunciation)

The androgynous visitor is dressed

in a rosy fabric thick as pigment, the tunic

blown back by turbulence to expose its lining,

a blue crescent under the right arm. Angels

are said to be genderless, so there’s a certain

enigma. A wing, the clue to otherness,

arcs in golden space. We are

at several removes from the reality, reading

between the lines, speculating on Angelico’s

speculation. How does an angel look? We are not

Daniel or Zechariah; we have not been shown.

This rendering suggests not celestial power and radiance

but a weight of apprehension; what must be announced

will not be entirely easy news

Wind is part of the picture, gusts

whipping the robes and body along a stretch

of baroque carpet. Gabriel seems to be

advancing up an incline, laboring with

the imperative of message, hair flattened against scalp,

features tense, hands folded tight to the chest,

agitation or awe--it is hard to tell. We can’t see

the heart hammering in the unearthly body,

but the announcement the cracking open of a space

that encircles earth and heaven, must weigh

like a gold boulder in the belly.

How might it feel (if an archangel has feelings) to bear

this news? Perhaps as confounded as the girl, there

in the corner? We worry that she might faint.

Weep. Turn away, perplexed and fearful

about opening herself Refuse to let the wind

fill her, to buffet its nine-month seed into her earth.

She is so small and intact. Turmoil will wrench her.

She might say no.

The Overshadow

"...the power of the Most High will overshadow you..." - Luke 1:35

When we think of God, and

Angels, and the Angel,

we suppose ineffable light.

So there is surprise in the air

when we see him bring Mary,

in her lit room, a gift of darkness.

What is happening under that

huge wing of shade? In that mystery

what in-breaking wildness fills her?

She is astonished and afraid; even in

the secret twilight she bends her head,

hiding her face behind the curtain

of her hair; she knows that

the rest of her life will mirror

this blaze, this sudden midnight.

Continued on page 2: Glimmers from stars have flicked all year long... »

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