If only Joseph had listened when she told him
one of those three kings, she couldn’t tell which,
was a harbinger of trouble. But Joseph, being Joseph
couldn’t turn away strangers lest they be angels
from God and welcomed them. The Magi showered
gifts on the newborn, but when they left,
Mary discovered they had given the child
more than gold, frankincense, or myrrh.
Now she had to trudge through the village,
to find this old woman, who everyone called
a witch because she knew herbs that could cure
or kill, and beg for a remedy to heal her son
of a sickness she had never seen before.
The old woman peeled away the swaddling
cloths, wrapped around the child as if to staunch
a wound, went to the back of her hut,
and pounded leaves into a poultice.
“Rub this over his chest and he will get better.”
“A man who is born for the cross can’t drown.”
Mary nodded. She didn’t understand a word--
only what she needed to do to save her son’s life.