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Stephen R. Clark

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Oreland, Pennsylvania
Joined June 1996


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The Nativity


As helpless as he was,
he deserved more privacy.
Yet they gathered and stared,
not completely understanding what they saw,
just that they had to see ... 


Mary was tired and sore and a little sick.
But she had heard the heralding angels
and knew they would come, that they had to come. 
To see this new small life
that had been holy conceived inside her.
She did what she could to tidy the dusty stall,
putting fresh hay in the manger
and carefully wrapping the child
in her only spare clean skirt. There was no more,
for the time, to be done. She smiled bravely, trying
to look her best, trying to collect her thoughts
and slow her racing heart ... 


Joseph stood by,
beside his beloved young wife,
uncertain how to act, how to stand.
He was a father, yet not a father.
He was proud of his brave Mary, and awed
by this birth. Just moments before
she had been wracked by the shrieking pains of labor.
And above her screams and sobs, he could have sworn
he heard singing. Voices, sweet like only voices
of angels could be. Then
the child's first gasping cries
crashing against the impinging darkness.
He wasn't sure he would ever understand
what was taking place, and not sure he wanted to. 
Shifting his weight, he stood silent,
his brow creased in thought, watching
the gathering people ... 


The shepherds, gesturing from stall to sky,
began talking in quick, excited words
about what they had seen and heard in the hills.
How night turned to noon,
and of angel choirs singing tidings of joy
and birth, and the child, found just as was promised,
small, red, and wrinkled, sleeping next
to cattle and chickens ... 


It was all too amazing. Yet,
he lay quietly dozing, having just been fed,
not totally unaware of the world,
but not more so than any other newborn.
He deserved more privacy.
Yet they would never leave him alone.
But always come to him, time after time,
to adore and obey, or to mock and kill,
as the paradox of Christmas
began burning in their hearts. 









The Godtouch: Poems by Stephen R. Clark





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