the annunciation, henry ossawa tanner, the philadelphia museum of art
poetry

shining

the beam of light illumines a face shrouded in shadow
it is a young face — oh, such a young face!
its expression one of wide-eyed wonder commingled with fear.
rejoice, beloved and blessed of women! your Maker is in your midst!
the rich voice echoes off the walls of the humble hut;
the woman-child shrinks back, astounded at the resounding sound.
mary, beloved-of-God, be not afraid, but witness this mystery:
within you shall something new be formed; the Son who rises
from your womb shall be named Jehovah-is-Salvation —
the Preeminent One, the Son of the Highest shall He be called.
The Mighty God shall give to Him the throne of His father david
and He will reign over jacob’s house forever, His kingdom ever-endless.
her clasped hands clench tighter at the bright being’s words.
how is this to be? she questions wonderingly. for i know no man.
the messenger replies: the Holy Ghost shall come upon you — 
the power of the Most High will hover over you. because of this,
the Holy One to be born from you shall be called the Son of God.
and now consider: your kinswoman, barren past the age of bearing —
even she is filled with a son. for no thing can remain impossible with God.
do the fingers turn still whiter as she ponders the point of no return —
this maiden named for bitterness, does she tremble at the thought of loss?
i am the vessel of the One Who made me, her voice comes low but strong.
may all you have said, from the first to the last, unto me be done.
the angel, in a rush of wind, departs; in the darkness her face is shining.

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