The Ballade of the Mother

A Poem By Aisling // 1/26/2005

(All right, this piece is really long, but it's partly because of the very quickly-flowing way it's written, with often only one word to a line. So please don't be intimidated by its length and give up on it...)

I
The song of the birds
she’s trying to pray
silently loving God
then the light
and the angel’s form becoming visible
and his voice
like a music that makes words to her soul
and her natural confusion
human question
his supernatural reply
suddenly she realizes what it means
she’s crying
falling down
gazing
flying
blown away
and she comes back to reality
the choice stands before her
the magnitude is like an unbearable weight
crushing her
clouding her
she remembers
“you have found favor with God”
God
she smiles
“I am the Lord’s handmaid”
and He was asking her…
“let it be done”
God
the light touches her
enfolds her
warms her
all around
ecstasy again
and then the angel leaves
the day stays
unchanged
unknowing
unextraordinary
nothing but the tiny flame of warmth inside
and she cries
overwhelmed
frightened
in ecstasy
in love

The bitter cold
her aching limbs
the stable smell
Joseph’s strong arms lifting her down
she smiles at him
loves him
needs him
the baby’s coming
her heart beats quick
fear
doubt
inexperience
but she closes her eyes
holds Joseph’s hand
in her mind the image of her God
and then the new life
so tiny
so frail
so helpless
so needy
God
she holds him close against her
unity
love
ecstasy again
and, slowly, she bends down
she kisses the face of God
maybe no one had ever done it before
And then the kings
from far, far away
and somehow they had known
and they had come
from far, far away
these great men
to see her baby
God
to give the baby gold, and frankincense, and myrrh
strange gifts for a baby
not strange for a king
and they had come to see a king
Herod rages
Joseph wakens her
warns her
she snatches up the baby
fear
terror
numbing her
filling her
her staring, terrorized eyes follow Joseph
so quick
so sure
he readies their things
and they flee
scared of pursuit
scared of the future
clinging to Joseph
clinging to her baby
God
and O, the other mothers
all their babies die
and she cries

II
The crowded temple
one in a million
or more
she stays close to Joseph’s side
smiles at her baby
God
God’s
and then the hand reaches out
touches her arm
Simeon knows
stops them
speaks
she looks to Joseph
a question in her eyes
he nods, slowly
she looks back to the old man
a strange light in his face
young
old
wise
wondering
she holds out her arms
slowly, she hands him God
she watches as He is lifted high
the light not just in Simeon’s face anymore
from his old heart the prayer
of knowing
worship
adoration
gratitude
ecstasy still
almost, she had forgotten
and now he can die
strange
she hadn’t been thinking about death
he seemed so alive
his voice ringing
the baby destined to be the fall and rise of many
a sign contradicted
and his eyes
clear
deep
piercing
pierces the ecstasy
the joy
the light
like the sword to pierce her heart
a sword
she shudders
she didn’t know
how could she have
but now…
she knows
feels
senses
something like a shadow
lingering above the light
waiting to fall
and fall it would
but the light still
the peace still
radiating like the warmth from the baby
she takes Him quickly
God
to be contradicted
Joseph’s arm
strong
unchanging
around her
and deep inside, the hole

Her son a growing boy
agape at the city
so pure
so innocent
so young
like the lamb
she smiles
walking beside Joseph
back home
but the smile fades
her heart remembers the terror of Herod
of losing her son
and he was lost
God
she is frantic
Joseph takes her hand
together they turn back
pursuing Him
seeking Him
needing Him
three days
and no sign
no word
nothing
and then the voice
she knows it well
so well
God’s
Joseph stays her, listening
she listens too
pure
innocent
young
but so wise
could it be her son
still she knows Him
runs to Him
embraces Him
too relieved to be angry
she has not lost her son
not lost God
“but where have you been?”
she gazes at Him
He gazes back
His eyes so clear
so deep
so bright
like…Simeon
she remembers the sword
the hole
she had thought that, perhaps, the time had come
but no
He had been in His Father’s house
His Father
she thought she knew
perhaps there were still things she did not know

III
Voices in her ear
happy voices
today two have become one
the people celebrate
but she sees there is no wine
she pities the couple
so unconcerned
so glad
she tells her Son
He will do something
He always does what she asks
but He says it is not time
she knows that wine is needed now
it cannot wait
He will help
she stops the servant
“do whatever He tells you”
perhaps Her son looked at her
perhaps He shook His head
she only saw Him out of the corner of her eye
and then He was turning
instructing the servant
she smiled
how she loved Him
she watched the water being brought
she saw the servants standing there
wondering
doubting
looking at Him
waiting
and she waited
He spoke words she couldn’t hear
He raised His hand
she watched the water turn to wine
He lifted his finger out
the deep red dripped from it
she froze
for a moment afraid
she knew not of what
of the red perhaps
of the ache inside
of the shadow

He’s so tall
so beautiful
God
a young man
washing her dishes
helping her weave
kissing her goodnight
and He says He must go
she looks at Him
loves Him
and she knows Him
she remembers what happened to John
and all he had said was “repent”
and what would her Son say?
and what would they do?
she couldn’t let her Baby go
and face a world of hate
but love was not afraid
she kisses Him
God
so like His Father now
so tall
so strong
so honest
so good
she still feels His embrace
His healthy figure grows smaller
down the road
she cries
for her Son
for the shadow
growing greater
darker
nearer
she leans on Joseph
nearer than any shadow

IV
Pushing through the crowd
her heart so cold
so numb
so painful
it hardly beats
she didn’t dare believe it
but John had spoken the words
and John doesn’t lie
she’s terrified of seeing Him
her Son
God
but she shall die if she cannot see Him
then suddenly the crowd is gone
no longer around her
the air is cold
all she sees
all she knows
all she hears
is Him
stretched out
clamped there
already the blood runs
a river of red
of pain
of innocence
and the whip cracks
she sees it
she feels it, as He does
she falls
someone catches her
dimly, through the terror, she remembers
arms
hands
a face
so strong
so reliable
now gone
and then the darkness
the shadow
but the nightmare it not ended
beneath the cross He crawls more so than walks
with every step leaving a memorial
a legacy
red
and then God is falling
she runs to Him
she had always run to Him
whenever He fell
she didn’t think, she just did it
but she cannot reach Him
cannot catch Him
cannot comfort Him
one brief second
she sees Him and He sees her
His eyes melt her
warm her
love her
and she loves Him
then a cold face
an angry voice
a rough hand thrusts her back
and John catches her
the hill is still far away
but she follows Him
all the way
and then they throw Him down
they set the nail on His hand
lift the hammer
swing
she screams
but no sound comes
only John hears
only she feels
they lift the cross
it throws it’s shadow
long
dark
cold
over them
God is strained
hung
bleeding
weak
her Son
John puts his arm around her shoulders
His master
she looks up
their life
leaving
dying
and then she cries
softly
silently
bitterly
the sword slides into the hole
tearing her heart
the pain sears her
she looks up
she has to
the pain in her eyes mirroring the pain in His
just like always
as in His agony He looks down
the face she had kissed
bruised
bloody
broken
the hands that had clung to her
pierced
chaffed
disfigured
and His eyes
God’s eyes
God was dying
yes even still there were things she did not know
but He loved her
He wasn’t leaving her hopeless
helpless
alone
He gives her John
the arm tightens around her
and she cries

Still crying, she watches them take Him down
cold
lifeless
gone
she runs to Him
she falls down
she takes God into her lap
she had done it so many times
this is her last
she doesn’t heed the sweat
the dirt
the blood
she presses her head against his heart
silent
still
dead
it does not beat its old familiar song
and, over it, she cries
for her Son
her life
her light
God
extinguished like a candle
a hand touches her shoulder
she looks up
they take Him
wash off the sweat
the dirt
the blood
she sees His bruises accented
the holes in His hands and feet
the rent in His side
the wounds in a crown around His head
all glaring at her
red
loud
ugly
they lay Him on a cloth
they begin to carry Him away
she stumbles after them
her eyes fixed on Him
His grey face
His unmoving breast
His still limbs
her heart numbed
stilled
frozen
the tomb is dark
cold
dead
she feels its icy air on her face
she kneels down
helps anoint the Body
God
she smells the myrrh
myrrh
she’s smelled it before
she sees three faces—kings
she sees a tiny hand fingering a golden vessel
she feels the oil
oil
she’s felt it before
she sees a clean-washed Baby
she feels, again, His smooth skin
as she rubs the oil on His limbs
she smells the delightful baby-smell
of His hair
and hands
and feet
suddenly they’re wrapping Him up
white bands
she’s seen them before
the floor of the tomb is cold
stone
she’s seen that before
she sees it all, again
the straw
the dust
the cattle in the stall
the little flame lighting a fraction of the darkness
the tiny Baby
shivering
cold
wrapped in white bands
she reaches
for the Baby
for Her Son
for God
for the ecstasy she remembered
and she feels the sword
the air was cold
and it was empty
she falls to her knees
she grips the Form
still and dead beneath the white shroud
she kisses His feet
His hands
His head
Her Son
God
dead
she feels a hand on her shoulder again
John
“come, mother”
she sees his face
his eyes
his hand, outstretched
her son
she rises
Love goes on
Love must go on

V
She sits
silent
solitary
grieving
going on
in John’s house
her eyes closed
her face in her hands
her arms on her knees
exhausted
weak
helpless
and behind her eyelids the Face
it’s all she sees when she closes her eyes
sometimes smiling
sometimes solemn
sometimes sad
always real
she reaches out
to touch Him
to take His hand
to bring Him back to her
He reaches out
He touches her
He takes her hand
He brings her toward Him
her eyes start open
she moves her mouth and all words fail her
even her voice fails her
the flame re-kindled
the face
the voice
the eyes
the breath
her Son
God
alive
she falls into His arms
safe
secure
warm
comforted
consoled
healed
alive again
ecstasy
…she had forgotten

Comments

He's Alive

Aisling, that is one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. Praise God Jesus is alive for us all. Even though I read it through tears it made my heart burst with love for Him. Continue to use the gift God has given you. Sarah L's Omie

Anonymous | Fri, 01/11/2008

OOhhh...

This is so beautiful. I had tears...espeacilly the bit where it starts off "the bitter cold" and the birth. Wow, you wrote something really special. Beautiful.

Maddi | Tue, 09/11/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

Ditto to both comments. You

Ditto to both comments. You truly have a gift with words! What a blessing to be able to use that gift to glorify God.
God bless you!

Damaris Ann | Mon, 09/15/2014

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.