THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2007

  Lynn Roberts
MARTHA AND MARY
 

When Martha, in her disgruntlement,
was left making tea whilst her sister
sat comfortably and listened to the word,
she couldn't have foreseen that one far day,
women around the world would take her part
(for who's on Mary's side?).
There are always
things we should be doing instead of what
we are doing; but who will do the latter
if not us? I look back along the
generations, seeing the vegetable
patches which must be dug and hoed and
watered, the cows which must be milked and fed
and taken out and led in; the babies
who must be changed and cuddled and taught; the
pies and stews and cheese and bread and wine and
ale which must be made; the washing and the
mending and the shopping; the sheer labour
of keeping civilisation going
and the sacrament of it, and I think, well,
you can tell that Christ was a man.

Then, again,
I think perhaps he knew that all our
proper thinking is done with hands full,
against the clock; and that you can write a
poem or develop a philosophy
or see an angel whilst you are weeding
or ironing or doing French homework;
and that possibly it was really Mary
who needed working on. Because if you
think about it, he was also God – and
therefore the only man who could do
more than two things at once.


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