Elizabeth’s Request by Maggie Blake Bailey

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari’ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” Luke 1:13

My son is a son of dryness.
I could have told you
he would eat locusts.

We filled his hands with doves,
with wild honey, because older
brothers are made of thorns.

How long does the miracle hold,
if I want another child,
a daughter to stay close to home?

If I want a daughter with no
angels, turned sideways in my arms,
collapsing into sleep?

When I press my own face
to hers, my mouth
to the bridge of her nose,

we fit. And when God comes
to claim his own, I am not
left with only a husband

who never spoke again, hating
the prayer that did not need
his body for an answer.

Let me keep a face
that looks like mine.


Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in Tinderbox, Tar River, Slipstream, and elsewhere. She has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and her chapbook, Bury the Lede, is available from Finishing Line Press. For more work, please visit maggieblakebailey.com. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter, a toddler who has some interesting ideas when it comes to distance and discord.


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