I learned from my grandmother -
herself a great and simple church -
if one creates a prayer of poetry,
heaven will send for you by name,
bypassing all theological detours ...
for God so treasures poets.
It was night.
We were kneeling,
saying our prayers together;
old aunties, uncles,
daddies, mommies, children,
and one old, old one.
It sounded like this :
'Hail Mary full of grace' we intoned.
But grandmother said under her breath,
Hello, my most holy Sister.
(It sounded like this : Elo miy most holey see-stair.)
You are so filled with the light of God
(Djou air so feeled wit te leet oav Goad)
I can hardly bear to look at you.
Soften your light just a little
so I can see you more clearly Dear One.
And we droned on,
'The Lord is with thee,
blessed art thou amongst women ...'
and grandmother whispered,
You were pregnant with the Lord,
oh the glory of it all!
You are filling my womb
with holiness as we speak.
And we bleated onward,
'... blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.'
Grandmother went on,
Oh my dearest sister,
I am so sorry you had to give birth
with only the poor animals,
your poor distraught husband,
with only the night sky to hold you,
for, What did Joe know?
I know this feeling, and I commiserate
if I had been there, I would have held
your thighs for you, cut the cord
of our beloved baby Jesus.
We bellowed out into the home stretch,
'... Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners ...'
Oh, my sins are many my sister,
but without your love
they would have been so many more;
if not for you, for your advice,
for your great love for women such as me.
Then, we began the final bugle,
crashing now into the finale
like moose in rut:
'... now and at the hour of our death, Aymen!'
Grandmamma was still whispering:
I have had many hours of death in this lifetime.
Without you my sister, my mother, my child,
I would never have known that pain, joy,
and strength are one.
You gave birth to me over and over again.
You are not the mother of all life, you are life itself.
Thank you for my life my Child, my Sister, my Mother.
Aymen for now, says your old daughter, Katerin.
Aymen ..... and a little woman.
Extract from Untie the Strong Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
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