Getting Mary Out of the Way by Natalie Solmer

So, maybe Mary met Joseph at reggae night
in a small basement bar and maybe Joseph
was an exceptional dancer, an athlete with arthritis.

Could it have been? Joseph was a Jamaican immigrant—
balding and spiritual, not religious. And maybe Mary
sold flowers at the grocery store and perhaps

when she went home and prayed at her altar,
she lit a pink candle called Manifest A Miracle,
and shuffled her tarot cards. Would you believe

Mary refused to marry Joseph when he asked?
Maybe Jesus was their second son. Maybe this Joseph’s
father was in fact a carpenter, but he himself

installed cable. What if Mary caught Joseph cheating
by finding condoms and receipts? Maybe Mary moved
out and received food stamps. Sorrow, sorrow, we all know

she loved sorrow, but did you know she secretly
tore the cloth of two of Joseph’s finest shirts
into long strips, then took them to the dumpster?

Wasn’t Mary humility personified, eyes downcast
so far down? Maybe she was above humiliation
now. Oh, humble, humble thighs. Perhaps

Mary needed sex as much as any man, and she conceived
Jesus on the floor of her apartment, despite being on the pill.
Though she had pushed Joseph away, he pushed past her,

into the living room. He wooed and seduced her every day.
Though, maybe when Joseph found out she was pregnant
with their second child, he cried in fear.

Maybe no angels visited.
Maybe Joseph was unemployed during this time,
and so angry at Mary for being pregnant,

that for nine months he never touched her belly.
Could it have been she went on living
because of seven prophetic dreams—

those of friends and family, as well as her own.
What if one of those—a man who was dating her friend,
a man who is the son of the Crown Prince of Reggae,

had dreamt of strangers talking excitedly of the promise
growing in Mary’s womb, before he ever knew she was
with child. Maybe she knew it was a test—

the dark days of her pregnancy—the harsh
judgments from everyone around her. Was it a fact
she knew Jesus would be the apple of Joseph’s eye?

Perhaps a couple of prophets had told her things about the baby—
his importance in the world, his peaceful aura,
his Christ-like feet. Maybe then Mary went to a psychic

and the psychic said Jesus would be known throughout
the world, very spiritual and creative, he would try
to help humanity. Is it true Mary thought of this

when little Jesus was singing, always making up songs?
Maybe Jesus was surprisingly fiery (he did leave home
at the age of 12 for the temple in Jerusalem, despite

his mother’s protests). Perhaps, when Jesus was three,
Mary studied his long feet after he threw his shoes
in the middle of a temper tantrum. Maybe she hoped
he’d never leave.

————
Natalie Solmer is a florist at a chain of supermarkets and an adjunct English instructor at Ivy Tech Community College. She received an MFA in poetry from Butler University, and her work has appeared in journals such as Dunes Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Punchnels, The Louisville Review, and Willow Springs. She lives with her two sons in Speedway, Indiana, a mile from the famous Indy 500 racetrack.

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