Mary at the Nativity

by Tania Runyan

The angel said there would be no end
to his kingdom. So for three hundred days
I carried rivers and cedars and mountains.
Stars spilled in my belly when he turned.

Now I can’t stop touching his hands,
the pink pebbles of his knuckles,
the soft wrinkle of flesh
between his forefinger and thumb.
I rub his fingernails as we drift
in and out of sleep. They are small
and smooth, like almond petals.
Forever, I will need nothing but these.

But all night, the visitors crowd
around us. I press his palms to my lips
in silence. They look down in anticipation,
as if they expect him
to spill coins from his hands
or raise a gold scepter
and turn swine into angels.

Isn’t this wonder enough
that yesterday he was inside me,
and now he nuzzles next to my heart?
That he wraps his hand around
my finger and holds on?

—from A Thousand Vessels (used by permission of Tania Runyan)

Poem of the Month: December 2015


  1. Hi, Paul: I’m Herb Anderson’s widow, BettyLu. I’m spending some of this Sunday viewing poetry by folks I know about. I’m an unpublished writer of poems; been to writing workshops, conferences, etc. I’m just writing to tell you I enjoyed my trek into your territory today and reading your poems and those of others. Luci Shaw has been my inspiration since late ’60s; I recently got her latest: EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, poems. Paraclete Press, 2018. She loves and writes about God’s green beauty, grey sands and rocks rimmed around river, lake or ocean. when I was on Library staff at Western Baptist Seminary (Portland) I discovered her listed in publisher catalog, ordered, recieved, read and found a friend and tutor! I will come calling again; I like your woodsy scenes. Herb took me on many family hiking trips; sleeping on NW forest floors looking up at starry heavens, framed by crinkle-edged firs and cedars towering above are memories cherished. And now bro’t to mind in my city neighborhood bereft of stars. My apt. is at The Courtyard at Mt. Tabor; property is within walking distance of Mt. Tabor’s park with evergreen trees I’m not planning to sleep under!

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