It is Christmas time, so I thought a poem I wrote some years ago might be suitable. We do not always remember that the mother of Jesus was an ordinary Jewish woman, living an ordinary Jewish life. No halo for her.
In a corner shrine in every room
That blue veiled figure stood;
A smile demure, a heart so pure.
The virgin with the spotless womb –
In plaster or in wood.
She was guardian of perfection’s goal
For which good Catholics try;
Always on hand to understand,
To see my sin and search my soul
With blank, unwinking eye.
In Mary’s house of sun dried soil
The air was goat-dung fresh,
Her armpit wet with straggled sweat,
Her body ached with pain of toil;
She knew the drag of flesh.
She had moaned her way through painful birth,
Inhaled an old man’s breath,
Knew griping bowel and bloodstained towel,
Heard soldier’s oath and barrack mirth;
And cry of lonely death.
I have no time for the plaster whore
Who knows no human truck;
I cannot pray to the painted clay
But I can bless the womb that bore
And the paps that gave him suck.
© Quentin de la Bedoyere, unless author identified