"Shepherd II" by Geoffrey Philp
Mary is pregnant and Joseph knows that the child she is carrying is not his. As they travel through the harsh landscape, they are joined by strangers who have been summoned by dreams, visions, and supernatural events to bear witness to a child whose birth they are told is destined to change the course of human history.
From the edge of the wilderness,
under the sky's wintry glare, goats
bleat at dried streams, thin blades
sliver the ewe's tongue, camels
cough in the dust--have we gone
too far, our faith too much
like madness? For we alone are sure
of what we've seen; our sons totter
from sleepless nights, the sand
tears their eyes, our daughters'
hands, hardened from pounding
corn against stones. And barely
holding our robes, we lower
our heads against the wind
that tatters whatever was left
of our pride. Yet, our reward
lay on the cold straw, warmed
by our bodies, so close to God:
helpless, naked, tired, cranky, one
of us, and we peered through holes
in the thatched roof toward heaven
and delighted in the dance of that star.