The Marriage of the Virgin

By David Starkey

Starry-eyed with love for God, Mary announces to the priests she will be that rare bird: a fourteen year old who refuses a husband. The rabbis worry, however, that she will defile the temple if she’s allowed to stay.

Call all the widowers, the chief priest decides. Have each one bring a branch stripped bare. 

The herald trumpets. The old men gather, Joseph least among them.

His branch is a dried twig, snapped off and trampled, but when his turn comes to hold it up, a dove alights, leaves begin to bud.

A quick huddle among the divines.

Some muttered words. A few cups of wine.

It isn’t much of a wedding.

Later that night, Joseph is snoring. Mary sneaks outside, looks up at the constellations. She knows each has been given a name by the Greeks and Romans.  She just doesn’t know what they are.

David Starkey served as Santa Barbara’s 2009-2011 Poet Laureate. He is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College and the Publisher and Co-editor of Gunpowder Press. His textbook focusing on flash forms, Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief (Bedford/St. Martin’s), will be in its fourth edition in 2021.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Pencil with ink washes)

Previous Next