If you tell the story often enough
You begin to believe it.
Of course we had been the City of David,
Which put us in the running.
Location, location, location.
The details helped:
The star, the kings,
And that bit about the census.
An anachronism, true, but what of it?
Science indulges in far greater margins for error
And as storytelling goes, it’s nothing
Compared to what they did to Nicholas of Myra.
Good press for the North Pole
But tough luck for Myra.
So all in all we are happy
To be the place where it all started.
Not bad for a little town, huh?
I could chew a blade of grass
And gaze lazily into the distance all day.
My mouth would sing with juices,
My back would hum in the sun.
But I was taught to carry.
And if I should drift away to gaze again into the distance
I was always reminded of my burden and my task:
To carry, and to wear so many cares.
My cares became me
And I ceased to seek a heaven in the idle act of living.
I did not ponder this
Until that time I carried into Bethlehem
An unborn child
Gave up his bliss
These people dismay me.
How is it that such fundamental things
Are so difficult for them?
If I had not been there, they had been lost.
The man was useless,
The woman was helpless.
But birth is ordinary work for me.
I, it was, who licked the baby clean
So his eyes might open
And his lungs might breath.
(And when they did, what a howl!
It sounded the world’s sorrow.
And when he slept, all the world was peace.)
I gave him breath.
I gave him my manger too,
The couple looked on gratefully
I taught the fisherman my art
Which comes down to this:
Much work making ready the lines
Then much waiting.
Flies, like fish, are drawn to bright lights.
Any brightness, no matter how far off,
Will make a migration.
The trick is to run the lines between
So thin and fine that they,
Gazing far off,
Do not see what is right in front of them
Until it is too late.
The hunting was good that night.
I laid many stores by,
Some still straining their wings
Unaware of being caught.
I however, being sated,
Was at peace.
I groan with milk
And yearn to nurse.
My calves do not stay long enough.
Too soon they are taken from me,
And I must yield my teats to strange hands;
A forced expression, but a relief.
I have learned to be content
With mothering others not mine.
Mothering is enough.
More, it is a desperate need.
Come to me, feed of me.
Take this my body unto you.
Take this and think of me
And we will become one.
I am all communion
Now, even as the human calf calls,
I let down
And groan to nurse.
You would if, like me, you were choked
With desert dust.
Out here every slight movement
Makes the air thick,
Makes the breathing hard,
Makes me want to spit.
That night we arrived
And stopped at last
There was stillness enough for the air to clear.
How sweet the clear, still air is to me.
Sweeter than water.
Water is defense, but air is heaven.
My breath was easy,
I sipped the air like nectar.
What was most rewarding that night
After so long a sojourn
After so many days and nights
Of cloudy way-making,
Was watching the dust settle.
Sparkling motes of starlight
Slowly sinking back to earth
Into a truly silent night.
Love, brimless, impelled me here.
All fear, like shade, made light
In Love’s bright promise.
We said “Yes!”
Now I am here.
No home, no prospects;
Danger imminent as night.
Love’s bright promise recedes.
All I see before me now
Is needy mother and helpless child
And a life of selfless labor.
Such is Love’s assumption:
Without profit or reward
To give and to give over.
The child of such Love must
In his own turn
Likewise give over.
What black night is it
So deep, so hungry,
That feeds on all light, all sound
Yielding only Nothing?
No beginnings but presage The End.
All life feeds Death.
My milk, my meat, my skin
Will be taken.
Even my bladder
Will yield a plaintive bleating.
Of all my uses this, my song,
To voice the desperate futility of Being.
This wine becomes piss
This flesh, clay
Even this child of Joy and Light
Shall be larded for Lamentations.
In the end my song
Shall be His.
That an event a billion years past arrives in view of these people
And is taken for a sign.
Beings that seek significance in events
Will see significance in events.
If it is there it has meaning
If it is not there
Still it has meaning
Where I am
Event is all
But to those that seek signs
There must be Time as well
Time before and time yet to come
And in the events
The sign most often seen
Is one’s self
It is not enough to happen
They must be assured that
They will be
Everybody needs something
These are the things I provide
Even when I don’t have them
You find a better solution, go ahead
In the heat of the moment
With everyone clambering for your attention.
A stable is a good warm place.
In truth it is often my extra room
During high season.
The storytellers pounced on it.
Everybody needs something
A stage for their little drama
A chance at immortality
Something to give them hope.
I’m just the guy who is trying to get what he wants
By giving others what they need.
There were many births that night.
By the time I reached the stable
The old mother dog had the baby well in hand.
I cut his cord and swaddled him,
Then attended to the mother.
I cleaned her and brought the babe to her breast.
The father was kind and gentle and not at all reluctant to help.
Of course I had heard the rumors,
But I am skeptical of virgin births
And the assumptions that go along with them.
All children are sacred
And the loving union of man and woman is divinity enough.
What god requires such miracles to prove himself?
An insecure one I’m thinking.
If you doubt me then tell me
What other than an insecure god would allow all my babes
to come under Herod’s sword?
Don’t get me started.
All I have to say is
He’d better not show himself to me
If He knows what’s good for Him.
You tell the story
And have placed me in it,
Albeit in the background.
If I had your sensibilities I might complain.
But such things do not concern me.
I was there before and remained there after,
While your story only passed thru for a short visit.
Long enough for wanderers to wonder.
But I have no need for the extra ordinary.
To me the stars are always bright
The days always prophetic.
Bliss is no special occasion.
Sweet grass, sweet rest,
Is all one and enough for me.
For your sake the story calls attention to these
And if attention is paid,
Treasure will be found
Better than any wandering kings