A Sign for You

Christmas 2003: The Nativity

I edited this again, and yes, it is even more dystopian.  But it  seems appropriate this grief-stricken season.

It is not  angelic Excelsis Deos, but
a mother’s anguished cry he first hears–
then the baby king breathes in
the scent of dung,
opens eyes to smears of blood
feels the earth rumble
with soldier’s horse’s hooves —
and tastes the tears of Rachel’s lament.

The smelly vagrants who visit,
who are first to wonder at Heaven’s exile:
an infant bound in cloths
laid in an animal’s trough,
nestled in a hollow
made in a cold stone, resting
like a corpse in a sarcophagus —
know suffering marks his true advent.

But we outfit the parents with halos,
snuggle a fat baby in a cosy blanket,
and sprinkle the scene with pretty angels
spangled in gold. We must tell our story
voiced with British accents
for suburban flat screens, drenched in sentiment.
We strip the angelic message of its mourning
–but it was for orphans and lepers

and hookers –for the night shift workers
He was anointed.
He came for haters of Christmas,
and of Him.  Even Creation groaned
at His birth–and a dragon waited to devour Him.
The bright star leads  to a tomb.
The sign for you yet still
is  cloth strips and hollowed-out stone.

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