The Annunciation, Hours of Albrecht von Brandenburg

(Flanders, Bruges, c.1522-1523)[1]

Annunciation full

The dove hovers between Mary and her symbolic background
Creating its own rainbow in a circle
She has not yet acquired her dreadful foreknowledge
Or an acceptance of angels

Things are not yet out of joint
Heaven is heaven and she studies it on her knees and points to it above
And she can look forward to a normal future where she will be a wife and then a mother

But heaven has invaded in the person of an angel
And hovers in her bedroom like another curtain
Pointing to the ceiling and the dove

Mary does not look at either with her tiny blue unaccustomed eyes
Each one made of ground up gems
She listens with eyes glassy

And doubtless thinks of flowers
There are lilies in her bedroom in a white vase
But in her future there will be poppies
And roses and their thorns

And somewhere in between there will be pomegranates
And bright tasty things to be found in the garden of the world

For Mary is a creature of flowers and outside her window is a bright spectacle of green
Emerald and slate grey and reflective cool blue
Colours and their names
And all the things that catch a girl’s fancy

But the angel has a slightly crooked nose
And she cannot make out her own halo
For this is a world
Of crooked things
Broken from the gnarled tree of the beginning

Soon she will become accustomed to angels
Pack a little satchel
Perhaps with some lunch
And entrust it to this brilliant creature
That cannot entirely guard her from the world

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©

[1] Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 294 a-e