Mother of May
Theater-giddy and drunk on fresh salmon,
We were looking for the car
When you caught us by surprise.
Our Lady of the Unnamed Side Street,
You waited in your corner shrine
Until the stained glass let us breathe.
You stole my breath from me again,
Then gave it back in sighs and sacred whispers...
You drew a prayer from me there
In the candle shadows,
Peaceful in your skin of stone
While in a corner stood my mother,
Mary, daughter of Mary-called-May
And she a Mary's daughter, and back:
Generations of our women walking in your name
And I, who might have been a stranger
But for lineage, but for love
I knelt before your image in the strange Irish night
And breathed between your open arms,
Peaceful under your gaze of stone:
Mater Maria Lacrimosa,
From interloper to intercessor the whispers passed,
"Peace between your people and mine."
And now in May I call you, Mary
To thank you for a night of peace
And a welcome I have not forgotten.
Mère Marie de la Mer, I carried you to France
Unknowing Or was it the other way around?
You'd been there far longer than I...
You caught up with me in the south,
Where you'd been waiting for your gypsies.
A guide painted us your story by the sea,
Mothers-of-Arles: sister, sinner, Salome
Confused, the centuries have folded them to you
Triple almost-goddess of exiles and messiahs,
Black-skinned, a little wild but still
Steadfast on the shoulders of your Rom.
I could taste their song on the salted air:
Voices lifted, generations called interloper
Walking in your name.
And they say in spring you crown them:
Riding above in your flower garlands
Ave, Ave, Marie Nègre,
Riding their strong arms back to the sea.
In the tear-warm waves I floated,
Peaceful in your liquid arms
And you drew my breath from me again
In sighs and sacred singing.
Sainte Marie des Caravanes,
I call to you now in May
To thank you for an azure day
And a mystery I have not forgotten.