Saturday, December 3, 2016

"The Carpenter of Nazareth"

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Photo credit: RavenclawPride -


The carpenter laid his hammer down
brushed sawdust from his clothes
slouched onto the rude wooden bench
he’d been working on
and ran calloused hands
through his dark, wavy beard
It seemed he’d misjudged
his beloved, his betrothed
her purity, fidelity, her forthrightness
Earlier that day
the tender voice he knew well
spoke softly of pregnancy
an angel...overshadowing
of some holy thing
It was too much for him
incomprehensible, even incredible
Joseph leaned back against the rough wood
stretched his sinewy arms
gazed with resignation toward the heavens
He'd hand her a bill of divorcement —
wash his hands. It was over. Finished
He rose, shook his head
and returned to work

In the night
tension dissolved
into welcome sleep
Deep, deep in its midst
a flurry of wings and light
wrapped him in wonder
A stirring voice resonated
“Fear not...
Take Mary as your wife”
Words swirled as he tossed
“for the Son conceived in her
is of the Holy Spirit."
Then distinctly, Joseph heard
“Name Him Jesus…
“He will save your people from their sins”

Mary placed a few belongings into a sack
She and Joseph were about to leave
for Bethlehem, for the census
She felt a hardy kick
from inside her swollen belly
and reflexively caressed the spot
“A knee,” she smiled
God had chosen her for a purpose
she could barely comprehend
and the birth would be soon
She neatly folded soft, clean cloths
and packed them
just in case her time would come
during the journey

Traveling was arduous
by foot and donkey-back
over hills and rocky terrain
Joseph was attentive
stopping periodically for rests
but evening was fast approaching
Finally, they could see the town ahead
Suddenly, Mary felt her stomach stiffen
Was this the sign
Elizabeth had told her about
Her back ached. She was weary
Soon, her stomach tightened again
then again, but stronger
She told Joseph
who touched her, tenderly
and bid her not to fret
Lodging was close by
But when they arrived
the innkeeper told them
the place was packed with travelers
Seeing their dilemma
he offered shelter and privacy
in the livestock cave out back
Joseph helped her off the donkey
and into the dark rock-hewn cave
Hurriedly, he gathered fresh hay
and prepared a makeshift nook
apart from the animals
then sat at Mary’s side, cooling her brow
as contractions intensified

In the evening chill
amid moon and star and lantern-light
the musky odor of straw and dung
rhythmic sounds of
braying, bleating
and occasional shouts and laughter
emanating from the inn
the carpenter rolled his sleeves
and delivered the Promised One
Joseph presented the healthy boy child
to his virginal wife to nurse
then emptied a rugged old trough
and filled it with sweet-smelling hay
all the time thinking
of the fine, smoothly sanded cradle
back home in Nazareth

"Jesus, someday I'll teach you
how to select the finest woods
how to build and saw and sand
You'll be a fine carpenter, Jesus
a very fine carpenter…"

Joseph carefully placed Jesus
in the makeshift cradle
then fashioned a spot for himself
on the floor of the cave
and soon fell fast asleep

Maude Carolan

Mark your calendar: The next poetry event will take place Saturday, December 17th, 7 p.m., at the ANT Bookstore & Cafe, 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. I will be joined by two poet/friends, Pastor EJ Emerson and Sister Jane Abeln, SMIC. Holiday music will be provided by Victoria Warne, Peter DiBella, Rikki Woods and Lidya Diaz. An open mic period will follow. Come, enjoy the festivities and the Christmas cookies, too! James Gwyn and Victoria Warne host this popular event on the third Saturday evening of each month.

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