I've been corresponding by e-mail with Beth, my editor, but on Monday, when I saw the subject line Pushcart Nominations, my heart stopped. I said, "Now wouldn't that be sweet." I clicked on the e-mail and tried to be patient as my work computer opened it.
And there was the news: Beth could nominate 6 works, and mine was one of them. Hurrah! I was so happy that I cried--literally.
I've spent the rest of the week thinking about why this nomination means so much to me.
I've been publishing in a wide variety of journals for almost 20 years, and this Pushcart nomination is my first. I've watched other worthy writers discuss their nominations, and if I'm being honest, some years I've wondered if it will ever be my turn. It sounds petulant, and it is, but I want to be honest about this creative life I'm living.
I continue to think about how I came to write this poem, which I described in this blog post. In short, I saw this picture on Beth's Facebook update:
and on the same day, I saw this picture in a different Facebook post
and a poem began to emerge.
It wasn't until I revised the poem and returned to the original post about the poem that I ended it in a satisfying way. I originally had the angel Gabriel finding Mary in that real estate office.
Here is the complete poem:
A Girl More Worthy
The angel Gabriel rolls his eyes
at his latest assignment:
a virgin in Miami?
Can such a creature exist?
He goes to the beaches, the design
districts, the glittering buildings
at every boundary.
Just to cover all bases, he checks
the churches but finds no
vessels for the holy inside.
He thinks he’s found her in the developer’s
office, when she offers him coffee, a kind
smile, and a square of cake. But then she instructs
him in how to trick the regulatory
authorities, how to make his income and assets
seem bigger so that he can qualify
for a huge mortgage that he can never repay.
On his way out of town, he thinks he spies
John the Baptist under the Interstate
flyway that takes tourists
to the shore. But so many mutter
about broods of vipers and lost
generations that it’s hard to tell
the prophet from the grump,
the lunatic from the T.V. commentator.
Finally, at the commuter college,
that cradle of the community,
he finds her. He no longer hails
moderns with the standard angel
greetings. Unlike the ancients,
they are not afraid, or perhaps, their fears
are just so different now.
The angel Gabriel says a silent benediction
and then outlines God’s plan.
Mary wonders why Gabriel didn’t go
to Harvard where he might find
a girl more worthy. What has she done
to find God’s favor?
She has submitted
to many a will greater than her own.
Despite a lifetime’s experience
of closed doors and the word no,
she says yes.