When I asked her how the world began
my mother’s face went blank.
I was very young, trying for the first time
to see the universe as endless.
All I saw was darkness swirling into itself.
How could anything be endless?
But how could it be contained? By what? All cosmos
held in the crook of an elbow?
There were no answers, though I thought the clouds
were great wings trying
to help me, and thought my blood changed
directions. What could I be
but an echo? Stranded here while the universe
grows like a belly dense
with stars. And I thought we were all orbiting inside
that belly, and light could pass
through me but I wouldn’t feel it. Years later,
my son told me how
he was conceived. He said he stood in a cloud
and pointed at me: I want her,
then put down his bow and arrow and came
when my back was turned
and entered through my shoulder blades.
What I don’t know
is everything: stars, sand, salt, dust,
molecules and atoms,
and how they come scudding through the door
full of news from distances
I can’t imagine. Some day I’ll tell my sons
the truth, that I knew
they were coming. Nothing I could see or even
feel but a sense sometimes
that I was permeable, the cells inside me
gathering and spreading.
I hate to think of galaxy after galaxy. All matter
burning up and shucked off.
The endless signs of demise and change.
I still can’t grasp
how anything at all can exist and what made
the maker. And sometimes I’m choked
with love and forget my own ignorance.
Maybe just at that moment
light is pressing through a tree and reaching
my window, and I am
satisfied, joyful, though I know there’s
nothing there, just light,
announcing itself, coming through.
Ann Marie Macari
Annunciation is reprinted from Gloryland (Alice James Books, 2005).