by Theodora Goss
In the cold, dark night, a woman is giving birth.
She is young and beautiful, not much more than a child
herself, and all the stars are looking down
to watch this event, the most important on Earth.
Hear her crying out in joy and pain
at the miracle that happens once but is repeated
throughout history, the birth of a savior, who is both
flesh and myth, Christ the Lord and Jesus the man.
But at the moment he is a wet, slippery thing
squalling in her arms. This is how it begins
for us, this is the narrative that redeems us
over and over: the child born in a stable
on straw, to poverty and a perilous life,
at the fulcrum of the year, when winter seems
endless, when hope is lost and we resign
ourselves reluctantly to death and darkness.
He is the infant searching for his mother’s breast
as she smiles through tears, and the eternal return
of light and warmth, a promise that spring will come,
love will endure and sins will be forgiven.
Meanwhile the stars, who are old and wise, look down
with wonder and mirth. They have no need of salvation,
unlike the kneeling shepherds, the three kings
winding their unlikely way to Bethlehem.
(The image is Madonna and Child by Marianne Preindelsberger Stokes.)