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Thursday, January 6, 2011

La Befana

With eyes the color of mortal sin
a heart as magical as the moon
she spends her days sweeping
and baking
mending and tending
preparing her home for love
and for hope.
Some say the Magi stopped at her doorstep
inquiring about Bethlehem;
they wanted to visit a special child,
they asked Befana to show them the way,
travel with them; but she declined.
Wiping tears from her cheeks
she longed to cradle her own dead children
long ago taken from her arms.
The Magi left, but Befana’s sorrow did not;
she filled a sack with toys
and cookies, bread and sweets
to soothe the soul and sustain the body,
she straddled her broomstick,
flew from house to house,
leaving presents on darkened doorsteps,
seeking the Divine in every child,
not one, particular, Savior born in
a manger or a cave,
but all the girls, all the boys
whose laughter and joy
save the whole, wide, round
world from despair.

Note: In Italian folklore, La Befana is the kind, old woman with magical powers who brings gifts to the children of Italy on the eve of the Epiphany.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary
    we have something in common . . . my name is Maria Saracino, and I am a figurative doll artist from Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. I was searching for some ideas for my blog about La Befana and came across your poem. It's beautiful. I would love to add it to my Befana page and of course link it to you blog. You can see my blog at
    Hope to hear from you.