Annunciation in a Northern Clime
For Mary Szybist
You came, feathers dripping, expecting to find recognition.
It might have helped if it hadn’t been raining,
if you had appeared in the doorway in a halo of morning light.
Instead, your wings dragged sad mud-trails on the tiles.
I could tell you weren’t used to the rain
by the way your shoulders strained to take the weight
of water-logged wings and I wanted to say ‘I’ll get a towel’
but your face was closed and intent.
When you spoke I realised you were burdened
not just by the weather but by the weight of your task,
and I found an indulgent smile on my lips
like a mother watching her son at his bar mitzvah.
I was reading when you came, though it wasn’t a prayer-book.
Botany had become an obsession since I felt the first bulb split,
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