Well-groomed for a
shepherd, fragrant for a sheep, the sleepless lad lurches, shuffle-stomp,
shuffle-stomp, out of town toward the hills. Dawn spills like too much wine, red
above the ridges where flock and friends, abandoned, spent the night. Alright, he mutters thickly, steadying
himself as for a blow. The sun is up, and
now they know.
Ahead a man and donkey walk
a slow, steady pace. Full of grace, his wife and infant rock and sway. Clop. Clop.
Both stop—and pick their path with care. They see him there. The man measures with
a carpenter’s eye. Radiant and shy, the woman offers him a smile as they pass. An ass, an old goat, and a kid—he returns a toothy grin—
Head pounding, heart
pounding, hung-over still. Narrow path, tumbled rock, all uphill. Grumbling and
stumbling, the stray finds his way to the herd. Not a word. They are
like pilgrims resting at a journey’s end, world-weary and at peace. Eyes
bleary, still he sees they also spent the night in light and song. Something’s amiss, he says to one.
What did I miss?
Labels: Christmas, horses and mules, Jesus, Joseph, Mary, poetry, scripture