Palm Sunday at the Cloisters

In the Merode room, the Virgin Mary
kneels in voluminous red robes.
She’s reading, still unaware
of Gabriels’s news. Nearby, Jesus
rides a donkey through the late
Gothic Hall. Hail, King of the Jews.

Against a wall, three kings
hold out their royal offerings.
There’s a happy Mary and baby or two,
a huge tapestry from Burgos, and St.
Michael vanquishes a hideous devil.
Sun streams in through high windows.

In the Cuxa cloister, yellow daffodils
and blue hyacinths burst into bloom
in newly warmed soil, sheltered
from late winter’s cold winds
in this medieval square of earth.
Near the walkway, a potted orange tree,
its leaves a deep waxy green, preens.

And in the Fuentidueña chapel,
the high notes of counter tenors
soar as a choir sings
Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa

Annunciation, nativity,
Madonna and child, king triumphant,
Pietà. How fast it goes!
Just when we were rejoicing,
Oh, my poor sweet boy, Mary cries.