March 2, 2011

On Fragrant Hay

"Sweet infant," trills the smiling choir
"He sleeps on fragrant hay"

And Christmas card Marys
Smirk all thoughts of pain away.

How was it really when He came?

Did Mary moan and scream
And grind her teeth and retch
(Poor wretch!)
Before His star could gleam its gleam
Above innyard barn?

He slept on fragrant hay?
But sheep and cows
Were not made of plastic then
Nor of Styrofoam and paint
Half-rotten straw and stinking wet manure
Were surely winter odors Joseph smelled,
Not sweet new hay
Nor cloven blossoms

No dainty creche had been prepared
And kept detached
From stench of urine mingled mud
Where ox feet stood
Where ox teeth chewed or dribbled fodder

God did not come
to antiseptic scented neatness
But to a winter barnyard's muck and filth

He always comes:
To things as they are
And not wished for rearrangements
of the facts

~Susan McCaslin~

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