Why should I not be afraid?
Why not fear this hurried incursion,
this impertinent disruption of my settled thoughts,
my carefully crafted equilibrium?
Why should I not feel terror at this tartaned stranger
with his gilded words and improbable wings,
who speaks as if from God,
as if I should hear from God,
as if God should have something to say
to this no-one, no-place, no-hope nothing.
Why should I not recoil
from words that make such demands of me?
Because there is something about it all that thrills me,
something that has been unsettled in me
since that strange, dumbstruck moment
when Elizabeth’s husband met with another such impertinent intruder.
I know I spoke of equilibrium,
but the truth is more like
a sleepless, anxious, disoriented longing,
a sense that something is about to come to an end,
or – no – to come to a disrupting beginning.
Falling-rising, table-turning mercy,
from now on and from generation to generation
and starting right here, right in the heart of this ‘nothing’.
I might just have to say ‘yes’.
[Simone Martini’s Annunciation of 1333, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]