MARY COULDN'T SAY she wasn't warned. The angel came with an Easter lily in his hand and stood so still he could have been one of the columns in the loggia where they met. Mary had trouble hearing what he said and afterward thought it might have been just a dream. Even so, it troubled her.
It was not until later that the real trouble came. The real trouble came when what the angel announced would happen happened, but in a way she couldn't have dreamed: squatting there in the straw with her thighs wrenched apart, while out of her pain she dropped into the howling world something that looked like nothing so much as raw beefsteak: who was the one the angel had said was to be called Holy, the Son of the Most High: who was the Word itself fleshed with—of all flesh—hers.