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Sharon Talbott

First Prize 2006 Novice Christian Poetry Contest $500

Sharon Talbott lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children. They
are all members of Grace Fellowship Community Church. For Sharon, the Word,
preached from the pulpit and acted out in the lives of the saints in this
congregation, kindles yearning and worship that can only be expressed through
poetry.

The poem "Triptych" came when she was exploring art prints of painted
tryptychs with her children at Christmas. In several of these, the central
mystery of the Annunciation was supported with side panels suggestive of other
stories leading to this pivotal moment, and scenes of ordinary life that
flowed out of this moment.

Editor's Note: Sharon's poem was submitted in "triptych" fashion with the three stanzas arranged side-by-side, but our web site format does not permit us to duplicate that presentation.

Triptych

I.

Salvation
—the wild vine—
was not observed
by cloistered holy men
to burst from alien pod
               fully formed,
               all knowing
               effortlessly self-contained

true, He is a convergence of history
               which is amazing, but
too, He had a mother
               who bore and raised him
               the usual way

a seed softly sown
               in a young woman
(gracious acceptance)
grew
               then
                              pushed
                                             out
marking the point
               when He began
               life on our terms

he came
               as he left
in warm blood and water;

               both times His mother
               shed tears at the cost of
               bringing new Life to the world

II.

She remembered the signs,
               told fabulous stories at bedtime
about her treasures—
               three gifts, a star,
               shepherd songs

She reminded him how
               to recognize angels; greet properly—
please lower your eyes
               (his first instinct
               was not fear)

She wrote names on his heart;
               as rabbis cherished ancient prospects,
“Messiah”, the young
               attentive boy
               heard his call

When her son wondered how
               one knows the right hour, she recalled
strain in the saddle,
               the stable presented in the
               nick of time;
she replied, “God
               keeps the promise; you
               just be ready”

A sword twists in her breast;
               what mother, even one
                              committed to revolution
               sacrifices her son
               gracefully?
Nevertheless,
captivated by more than just
               his merry eyes, or the stray
               wisp of hair on a smooth round brow,

she sang him her song
               Magnificat
and He grew to love the hope
               —He wanted to BE the hope
                              of the world

III.

Here is a secret
Mothers know:
Love is not the work of a day.

               Mindful of the beginning
               Focused on the end
               Sustaining and sustained

The mother’s kit includes
               whispered lore,
               attention to signs,
               a hand extended on the path,
               admonishments to
                              “remember who you are,”
context and purpose for
               every small act and choice,
a miscellany of other tricks under the
               governance of love

With lifetimes of such diligence accrued,
universes are redeemed.

Copyright 2004 Sharon Talbott