Twelve Missing Scenes From the Life of the Virgin

There’s a painting in the Louvre which is 12 panels “scenes from the life of the Virgin” and there’s a note saying they’d have flanked a large Annunciation, now missing. And I saw this yesterday and instantly thought “12 missing scenes” andI sat down and wrote this, on paper, in the Louvre, and I am transcribing it now. It helps if you’ve looked at a lot of Renaissance art.


They never show her washing diapers.

Made man, made flesh, includes digestion.

Mary gently changing His diaper would make a great picture.

Motherhood isn’t only the moment when the angel calls.


What did they do with the wise men’s gifts?

Did they spend the gold on the flight into Egypt?

Refugees need cash, but how about the others?

They’re like an unfired gun on the mantlepiece.


How about Baby’s first step?

Toddling from Mary’s protective arms towards Joseph

Or Giovannino, little John the Baptist

Or Auntie Elizabeth. Raphael nearly did this.


OK, maybe He always did His homework.

But we could have a scene with Mary

Helping Him gum things on a scroll

For a project on Exports of Roman Judaea.


Dancing at the Marriage of Cana!

Mary, dancing. With Joseph.

Blue robe skirling up, kicking her legs,

There’s nothing wrong with dancing.


Packing a picnic for the trip to the wilderness.

“Mom, John lived on honey and locusts.”

“Never could get either of you to eat locusts as kids.

Take this to keep going until you get settled.”


Among the audience at the Sermon on the Mount

Looking so proud and thrilled

Nudging her neighbours “That’s my boy,

Blessed are the peacemakers, did you hear that?”


Similarly, in the crowd on Palm Sunday

Watching Him ride into Jerusalem on a donkey

Throwing her palm down, yelling “Hosannah!”

How could she miss that?


Washing the dishes after the Last Supper.

Scraping the crumbs off the bread plates

Washing the wine cup carefully, drying it,

Putting it away. Not crying.


Thanking Joseph of Arimathea for the loan of his tomb.

“So kind, really, don’t think we don’t appreciate

Because He only used it for a short time.

It was just what we needed.”


Arriving home afterwards, with the other John

(His pink robe next to her blue) the neighbours watching

Holding her head up, He might have been executed

But she has nothing to be ashamed of.


Reading her book on an ordinary day.

A day with no supernatural interruptions.

She is just sitting reading, no baby, no angels

And finally gets to finish her chapter.

18th May 2017, Louvre, Paris.