Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A few days ago, I received an invitation to attend a book signing from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. today at the ULL Alumni Center in Lafayette for my poet friend, Darrell Bourque. The signing celebrates Darrell’s new and selected poems which are contained in IN ORDINARY LIGHT, the work of the finest poet in the state of Louisiana and one who deserves the post of Poet Laureate of the United States. I mentioned IN ORDINARY LIGHT in an earlier blog, but began reading his poems again at the breakfast table and suddenly realized that I’ve been touting the work of a genuine mystic who certainly deserves a second mention. One of Darrell’s newest poems entitled “Ave Maria – Another Queenly Version,” centers on Mary, a leading character at this Christmastide and a maternal figure who comes into full view in the Gospel of Luke, where the mystery of Jesus becomes inseparable from his mother. In Aramaic, Mary’s name means “Princess” or “Lady,” (in Darrell’s words, “another queenly version”), and Tradition sees in Mary the “new Eve,” while Jesus is the “new Adam.”

Here was a woman faced with a mystery that was beyond her understanding, yet she welcomed her role by answering a divine call. The Gospel of Luke gives us the song of Mary making it into a prayer or a psalm of thanksgiving, where she sings of the new event. She is exemplified as this woman who is snatched by God from attacks of the serpent (we remember all the statues of Mary, dressed in blue, standing on the head of a serpent), and because of her faith is proclaimed as blessed because she bore Jesus in her womb. Mary is called “the daughter of Zion,” and is the personification of the people of God. In the Magnificat, she raises her voice in gratitude and joy for being crowned with favor.

Darrell’s vision of Mary’s role in the Christian church suggests another version that is told by the Daughter of Zion herself – a different story, perhaps, but one that includes some of the images of her as reported in the New Testament and in Tradition:

If she could have told it, it would be a different story altogether
than the ones we are used to hearing. In the stories not hers
she is dressed in the flowing robes queens on this earth wear.
She is crowned with precious metal crowns with jewels in them;

she walks on moons, crushes snakes, and stars encircle her head
as though she is some interplanetary goddess. She even floats
on clouds, and in one version she is a pagan goddess who’s shed

all her clothes to rise from murky seas and drift toward waiting oats,
toward flowers and fruit trees. She is offered a mantle rich and red,
a silken embroidered fullness to cover nakedness in a land of goats.

But, she may have dreamed nothing. A quiet fish in her belly swam.
She connected to nothing; she, a sheet night can be, no oaths or swears
inside it. She made way for a thing erasing her, no sighs, no verse
to interrupt a thing --- indecipherable, undelineated, inexplicable forever.” - Darrell Bourque -

IN ORDINARY LIGHT by Darrell Bourque can be ordered from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, P.O. Box 40831, Lafayette, LA 70504-0831.
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