Rebecca Foust

The Bugler Responds to Mary

This poem honors the work done by all still-open abortion clinics. 
It was inspired by Todd Akin, Missouri congressman who lost his seat 
after saying that women who are victims of what he called "legitimate 
rape" rarely get pregnant. 
The poem was inspired by a medieval “annunciation” painting –you’ve 
seen these—where an angel holding a trumpet announces to the virgin 
Mary that she’s pregnant with God’s son. It’s a persona poem, spoken 
in that angel’s—the bugler’s—voice after he’s delivered the news—Mary 
is more or less going “What-wait—do I have to?” and this is the angel’s 
response to her.

What will He do, slut, if you refuse? He will silence your 
voice, break your reed, have you stripped

and flayed. Make you my mute, my spit rag, my instrument 
case, merely a vessel to swell, split, and spill fruit.

Without God, what water, what soil, what salt, what sun?

I, mouthpiece, claim absolution

and absolute reign under his reign. Have you seen how a 
is made? Silver stamped thin,

rolled and bent, crimped like a thread. God does that with 
breath, and absent his breath all song is scat,

broken like chaff across his long staff. We all live at his 
sufferance, and you, you are the pear-shaped note

he allows me to choose—or not—to blow. If it is really 
rape, then you will not ripen. If you refuse,

I could teach you the blat-blat interval between bravado and 
fear, but it’s moot, my dear girl, already done—

He spoke, and I blared into your ear—a son.