David Roderick

Faithful See Virgin Mary in Office Window

In flowerbeds we crowd, some praying,
some bowing as the world, minute as it is,
stays in motion: box stores doing business,
fast food joints, and above us a crow,
secular bird, lighting on a lamppost
while we take pictures or cry as if we could
live forever in this gloried surround,
gazing up at the window holding her bleared
hair, her mouth a frenzy of trapped
pollen or dust, eyes like smooth shells
that make us forget what fertilized
the flowers at our feet, bulbs fortified
with potash or bone meal, dried blood,
which reminds me of the Annunziata
I saw in Italy, painted by those who thought
color itself was divine: crushed shell,
coral and ash, pigments mixed with egg
in a man’s mouth, and I worry about
standing too close to the believers, I who
rubberneck and lie, do I stand too close
to the woman at least six months along
with her own child, waving a sonogram
with a faint infant shape inside, the image
scratched by waves: light squandered here,
dilated there, compressed oil and dust
as every body contains its atlas of salt,
kiss-worn, and always some bud dreamed
in springtime, and though I’m a yarner
and one for whom doubt is a clutched root,
I can’t yet walk to my car, standing here
wondering if after His birth the virgin girl
saw the rest of her life would be nothing
but a way to talk about that morning:
gold nearly blinding, herdsmen and kings,
and with its broad warm tongue
a cow licking the afterbirth from the hay.

David Roderick
“Faithful See Virgin Mary in Office Window” first appeared in Poetry, December 2010.