Mary breaks into a cold, damp sweat,
her eyes bloodshot, her skin crawling
as she takes one more breath and screams,
pushing baby into open air,
riding a rush of adrenaline and blood so pure
that it can only be love.
Deep down, though, she knows that love
is far more than chemicals and sweat,
and she wonders if the hope she has is pure
enough to keep the doubts from crawling
out of their corner and sucking all the air
from her lungs, stifling her screams,
as if she even knows what screams
she could offer that would equal the love
that has been entrusted to her to air
out the world. Does a mother sweat?
Is a mother still a mother, standing or crawling,
doubting or believing, hoping the pure
hope of one whom hope incarnate has made pure?
She hears in her memory the screams
of her own mother when she was young and crawling
towards the edge of a table, the pain of love
in Anna’s lungs, breaking into a cold sweat,
breathlessly afraid that her daughter would fall through the air.
This is the love of parenthood, the air
that every parent breathes, the pure
terror of loss in every waking sweat,
the never ending worry that screams
over and over inside your mind that your love
is not enough to keep them crawling
to safety. Mary’s child is not yet crawling,
but she knows already that the air
will take Him one day. His love
will break Him in two, and the pure
truth is that she will have nothing but screams.
This will keep her up at night, covered in sweat.
But for now, the ruddy infant is placed in her arms, flesh to flesh, sweat to sweat.
Out of His lungs into the night air comes crawling the screams
of love divine. Mary smiles and holds out her breast, pure grace feeding grace pure.