Five for Incarnation

I.
Christmas is a
ceasefire and
promise of armistice
in everyone's war
with her own flesh
a connection made
eternally
in hope it will also be
temporary

II.
We took you at your word
and calmly spoke it back,
so then you, made your language
us
whose flesh succumbs to
hunger bombs neglect

we tremble now to say
I love

III.
During that census,
a well-organized event
that shifted populations
(like war
or the building of a thruway),
somebody got born

nobody official
wrote it down

IV.
So many heroes
of lotus leaf or hemlock,
riding whales or donkeys,
give themselves

which, one
walks water
sleeps on straw
gets born
loves me?

V.
Whether we weather it or not,
let cold time undress us to the bone
then slipper us in dancing shoes
for whirling out of wombs
with grace

Evelyn Mattern was a member of the Sisters for Christian Community and worked as a lobbyist and organizer for the North Carolina Council of Churches when this poem appeared.

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