I. Christmas Pageant
At twelve, I played Mary in a community Christmas pageant. I saw you at the service, people said. I saw you with your baby, riding your donkey. A real donkey, led by some boy. Older boy. Fourteen at least. I don’t remember his name or if I even knew it at the time. Just that I couldn’t look at him. Couldn’t look straight at him without blushing and lowering my eyes. Everyone said I made a great Mary. That I did a great job being the one God descended upon. No, not descended upon. Entered. That I did a great job being the one God entered. And who afterwards called it holy.
II. Christmas Pageant Revisited
The boy is important, the visiting poet said. Immensely important. The center of the poem, he said. Her desire for him is the center of the poem, the dramatic center. Her desire for him is what this poem is about. This much is clear: She desires him. The girl riding the donkey desires him, the boy, the dramatic center. You need to build him up more, he continued. Give him a name, good looks, maybe a touch of acne. Help us to see him, to see the real center of this poem. To see into the center; to see inside her desire. Help us to get inside— inside the blushing and the lowering. Tell us how blue his eyes are, how dark his hair, how straight and perfect his nose. We need to see him. The center of her desire. Unless, of course, you are striving (striving!) to create an aura of mystery—an illusion of mystery— like you would if you were talking about, say, God. Unless, of course, you want the boy to be mysterious [End Page 121] in the same way a deity is. Maybe even the girl. He said this last part parenthetically. (Really, he did.) Unless of course, unless of course . . . .
Unless of course you, YOU, just don’t get it. Just don’t get it. That there is nothing mysterious here. Nothing of the element of religious deity in the story of a god who descended upon, entered, a woman, a girl, and with this, the world. Entered and created a world filled, filled with immensely important boys who would grow up to be immensely important men, who would grow up to be the dramatic center of every girl’s life, grow up to be the desire of every girl who would become every woman, who would become, be becoming to, every man, who would become, yes, become, come, come not out of choice, not out of desire, but fear. Fear and trembling.
Unless, of course, you call that love. [End Page 122]
Lisa Dordal received her MDiv from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2005, and is currently enrolled in Vanderbilt’s MFA program for Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in Alive Now, Theology Today (online), Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, and Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs (an anthology from New World Library, 2008).