NATIVITY: STAR

Morning Star, Nova, portent of grace–
I point the way and you follow.
I am the bright stability at your very core.
In the long beam of my light
you are climbing the spiral stair
stretched from Eve’s heel
to the tips of your fingers
spread in endless surprise.

 

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NATIVITY: INNOCENTS

This one must against all hope be saved.

Strong and anxious,
bundling at night,
fleeing to another place.

Herod is always there:  beware.

Death by design;
and powerless mothers weep
when little ones are not.

Scraps, ideas, bits of goodness,
tiny flickers dancing in dreams at dawn–
gone.

But remember–
the one removed
a desert landscape away–
worth all the rest.

Do your weeping,
and let the others go.

 

NATIVITY: SHEEP

 

 

Our function largely symbolic:
one at the foot of the manger,
woolly and cute,
one draped over a shepherd’s shoulder,
as in stained glass of the sentimental sort.

When hurt or lost or hungry or afraid
we cry, like you.

In our midst the holy baby
holds out his precocious arms
and we don’t know, don’t care,
our only novelty the sheltering cave,
a mouthful of scented preposterous hay.

 

NATIVITY: ANGEL

Look at them:
pitiful the weakness
of their little arms and legs,
those minds that scatter
and waver and blow.
So much like
the flowers they walk among,
stem and leaf,
their shadows flickering
swift across the ground.
It’s news they need–
those fragile ones caught in there,
and I–if this can be called an I,
so high around them,
so fresh from the wide clear spaces–
here in my breathless voice
I sing that very news:
In you is born!
And Gloria!  And Peace!
All yours!  It’s all in you!

Their plodding feet,
pain around the heart,
flesh that could melt
at one touch of my fiery wing.

 

NATIVITY: SHEPHERDS

You do not want to touch us,
our lice and filth,

greasy hands that smell
of excrement  and wool,

clothes like fleeces
all burry and stained.

But still, beneath your showered skin,
we crouch around the fire.

Listen!  something is awake.
Look!  the glitter of watching eyes.

And all around in their heaving piles
the sheep doze secure as sheep may be.

Remember:  we were the first to know.
They came to us–those singers in the sky.

Remember–Heaven chose the vigilant
to hear the that infant’s cry.


 

NATIVITY: OXEN

OXEN

We stand solid,
breathing mist, chewing cud,
unmoving, unafraid.

Unconsenting
we gave up generation,
the wildness of muscle and horn.

We’ve pulled the plow, the load,
known the whip, the goad,
commands to back and turn.

And here, in this cave, behind this inn,
we saw the birth of God
and shared our manger.
Here we witnessed miracle
and in remembrance,
Christmas Eve, we speak.

Now listen:

The manger is inside you, in the dark.
In you we stand patient and slow.
In you the baby god is born again.


 

NATIVITY: MARY

Child of God
conceived of me alone–
no blood but mine–
tonight I give birth to you again.

Your insistent little body
slips wet between my thighs
after another night, precarious,
on the lip of the abyss.

I give you life
when your time is come;
I feed you and warm you
till you are satisfied.

This time you are born
among animals, angels,
a star hanging over my head
like the only lantern in the world.