Mary II – The stable

The poems,
The carols,
The centuries
Of art,
Paint Nativity
In a stable
As cosy.
The ox, the ass,
Well fed,
Unreally clean,
The straw
Luminous gold,
All of us
In rich and spotless robes.

The reality
Of manure,
Watched by
A scrawny ox,
A diminutive,
Patch-furred ass,
Prickled by rough, dusty straw,
My child was born,
Slowly, ordinarily,
As if this child,
My child,
Were not
Flesh made miracle.

Too soon after,
Yellow-toothed shepherds
Staggered in,
Hesitant, resolute,
Oblivious to the mess,
My sweaty exhaustion,
Joseph’s embarrassed confusion,
Dragging skinny sheep
For a King
Lying on a folded shirt
In a hard-grimed manger.

They babbled
Of God’s glory,

Of heavenly hosts,
Angels in thousands,
Singing past enchantment
Of the Messiah,
In a stable,
Son of God,
Here, now,
Made flesh.

I held their tale
In my heart,
With John’s leap
In Elizabeth’s womb,
With this outsider’s birth,
Its poverty,
Its inconvenience,
Knowing that this, too,
Was part
Of Gabriel’s promise,
Of my first,

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