“Anna the Prophetess” by Tania Runyan (poem)

Jinks, Sam_Woman and Child
Sam Jinks (Australian, 1973–), Woman and Child, 2010. Silicone, silk, human hair, acrylic, nylon, polyurethane foam, timber, 145 × 40 × 40 cm. Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia.

Widows of Jerusalem, I too was once
young enough to believe my life mattered.
When I woke, the sun rose for me. I tucked lilies in my hair.
Now I am eighty years a temple dweller.

What a wonder of faith! they proclaim. Truth is,
I cry in the dark. I beg priests for bread

and pick insects from my hem. But today,
an infant came to be blessed. He curled

into the crook of my arm, and when his eyes
wandered to mine, I remembered every hope

stored in my childhood’s heart: gazelles
and henna shrubs, doves perched in the crags.

I touched his face—
that skin we were meant to wear forever.

Inspired by Luke 2:36–38, this poem appears in Tania Runyan’s first full-length poetry collection, Simple Weight (Lexington, KY: FutureCycle, 2010). Used by permission.

Tania Runyan, MA/MFA, lives in Illinois, teaching sixth-grade language arts, speaking at writing workshops, and writing poetry, much of which grapples with scripture. She is the author of five poetry collections—What Will Soon Take Place, Second Sky, A Thousand Vessels, Simple Weight, and Delicious Air—and the popular instructional guides How to Read a Poem and How to Write a Poem. Her most recent book is Making Peace with Paradise: An Autobiography of a California Girl, about her west-coast upbringing.

3 thoughts on ““Anna the Prophetess” by Tania Runyan (poem)

  1. What a great poem to link with that extraordinary sculpture by Sam Jinks. Woman and Child proved a beautiful devotional focus for a church meeting last January. I can’t help feeling quite chuffed that with Sam Jinks and fellow Australian-born Ron Muek, Down Under has produced two remarkable hyper-realist sculptors of profound insight into the human condition and its spiritual interior. Thank you.


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