Two Poems

by Maggie Blake Bailey

Mary Listens

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”  Luke 1:34

Elizabeth says: here.
Turn your body.
Hold the water pitcher

and empty what can be emptied.
These saviors are here to stay.

But the flat bread
chewed slowly at dawn,
is it a relic now?

Someday they will hoard
his toenails, lavish gold
on his finger bones.

But I cannot imagine they will
pray the litany of meconium,
the rosary of linea nigra.

We were never meant to have blood.
I never said my body
was a cathedral.

Elizabeth says: here.  Open
your hand against the light.


Myrrh smells like licorice.
Frankincense smells like lemon
and pine sap.

Birth smells like blood and shit.
The body loses half itself.
How much straw is stained?

When the men anoint the boy,
who gathers the limbs
of the mother?

Who gathers the gold?

MAGGIE BLAKE BAILEY has poems published or forthcoming in The San Pedro River ReviewTar RiverTinderbox, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Bury the Lede, is available from Finishing Line Press and at  She has been nominated for The Pushcart and also for The Best of the Net. For more work, please visit

Photo: “Cement Cemetery Mary” by Steve Rhode

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