Easy for him to say, with her long hair
brushing his feet for the first time, hair
I had combed and scented with the crushed
river lilies, the yellow and white.
She a little smitten, him smiling, so
sure. Of course he was the son of God.
Meanwhile her bread rose too high,
the fire (it was her turn) sank low,
and the usual children stood at the door,
waiting. Words, words—true
enough, but still, what’s a friend who
can’t talk and shell beans at the same time?
Mary—I know that wish to sit absolutely still.
Harder to forgive the visitor assuming
dinner would be prompt. I fed the fire,
set her bread. I gave the children milk,
heard their tale—a stranger pulled many days
dead from the water. Mostly I heard
his message anyhow, the promise ringing
down the steps. He was always loud enough.
Nancy White is the author of two books, Sun, Moon, Salt (winner of the Washington Prize) Detour. Her work appears in The Antioch Review, Black Warrior Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, Rattle, Virginia Quarterly Review and others. She is editor and president at The Word Works and professor of English and creative writing at SUNY Adirondack.