If Mary Were Mine

If my pre-teen daughter came to me

and said she was pregnant and God

was the father, and the fetus she carried

would be the one to save us all, I would

slap her face around to the back of her head,

which is likely what Mary’s mother did

when her girl announced that she’d skipped

a period.


The fury of this mother is easy to imagine,

given the small town in which they lived

and the speed with which such news

would travel door to door, like the tenth

plague in Egypt.


Looking into her child’s wide eyes, the mother

of Mary didn’t see the creche with nodding donkey

and cud-chewing cow, disheveled shepherds beside

gift-bearing kings, and a holy child in the middle,

his pudgy fingers raised in the universal

sign of blessing.


What she saw was horror; a thunderhead rising up

dark and foreboding, swallowing the sky, their home,

her daughter; spinning them all into the squall of

danger and shame.


She acted quickly, before the knowing nods

started, and bustled Mary off to her pregnant

cousin’s house in the hills far away where

the two could gestate together. Mary would

return childless, and the cousin would raise

a set of twins.


The heat of my palm cools; the hand-mark

fades on the daughter’s face in my mind and

young girls visiting relatives out of town

hold their breath and quietly give their

babies away.

Before Eden

Doesn’t it seem

that the bold claims of faith

asserting we were made

from clay and rib to meet

a holy need for friends

and placed in a garden

from which we were booted

because we did the one thing

we would not have done

if we hadn’t been told

we shouldn’t so that

we entered the world with

our firstborn named Sin

who still suckles at

our soured breasts,

growing fat upon our lean,

bending us down though

we strain to straighten,

believing we are only slightly

lower than the angels

yet queued for the gibbet

that is our due,

are absurd?


Consider the dinosaurs.

They neither toiled nor spun,

yet Solomon in all his glory

was not arrayed like one of these.

When the gates of Eden

clanged at our backs,

did we see before us

these majestic creations of God

receding in a sad parade

toward the unknown?

The clack and rattle

of dust-caked jawbones

shaped like but not

the same as ours

tell a tale we’d rather not hear.


©Dana Hughes 12.2.17




The Dogs Plan

Today I decided:

I would get a dog.

It’s been six months

since we said good-bye

to the two that ran us

on short leashes through

the dizzy years of rearing

our biological pups.

they walked us at heel

into the days beyond degrees

when all of our muzzles grayed,

and we slowed as they did

until they asked that we

keep going without them.

Perhaps from afar they urged

me to hurry to the place where

the shelter dogs were being shown.

They may have persuaded that sweet

young mutt to climb into my arms and

kiss my cheeks, pushing my face from left

to right so that I saw the woman begging

for help with an orphaned kitten she couldn’t

afford to feed.

I understood the command and

accepted the change in plan.

© Dana Hughes 12.2.17