Madonna & Child, by Wes Browning
    holding your baby;
did you see a shadow fall
    on the stable wall?
When the shepherds came to pray,
    what had they heard the angels say?
Did the wise men dare to tell you all they knew?

    who are you?

Frightened child bride,
    towed by an angry Joseph
    through the swirl of history,
    shouting prophets
    thundering over your huddled form...
Untouched maiden
    meekly kneeling
    to the Master of the Universe,
    raising one cuckoo
    and a flock of sparrows,
    never losing serenity
    or innocence...
Conniving seductress
    foisting her bastard off on God,
    hoaxing Joseph to raise it,
    muddling the boy into visions,
    all to mask your own guilt...
Daughter of the prophets
    poised in ancient wisdom,
    cuddling the sweetest infant
    to the tenderest breast,
    nursing him to sacrifice and glory...
    who are you?

        did you ever fear?
        cuckold of God -
        did he take it out on you?
    Or was he so kind and noble
        you felt unworthy,
        distrusting any moment
        of anger
        or any human weakness?
    Your child-man
        who never cried at night,
        or begged for toys
        then broke them,
        who never raided the cookie jar,
        or rubbed dirt in his best friend's hair -
        did you know how weird he was,
        before you raised the other boys?
    Did you ever lie awake
        with some deep grief;
    did he come hold your hand,
        wisdom far too ancient in his eyes?
    When you found him
        lecturing the scholars,
    did you see a cross-shaped shadow
        on his path?
    Did you fear for him, Mary?
    Did you fear Him?

          I am afraid.

      To fall,
          to fail,
            to feel...
      I am afraid of pain
      and of the long slow numbing dark
          without pain...

          I do not know
          who I am.
      With no home and no money
          am I helpless,
          sick and pitiful?
      Am I angry,
          robbed and ruined
          by the System,
          the Others,
      Am I stupid,
          a wicked woman,
          reaping the returns
          of evil ways?
      Am I the player,
          one strike down
          but grinning,
          setting my feet
          to jump back in the game?

            am I your child?
        Will you hold and warm me
            until I am ready
            for my destiny?

            am I your sister?

            where are you?

        Have you found your ground
            beyond the swirl of history,
            cascading quantum images
            others painted for you;
            have you made a place
            to be your self?

            show me.

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