"Shepherd II" by Geoffrey Philp

Geoffrey PhilpTwelve Poems and A Story for Christmas describes the journey of a newlywed couple, Mary and Joseph, to their ancestral homeland where they are to be registered in a census decreed by a tyrant.

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.



Shepherd II



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.


***

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