You thank the wife of the inn-keep
for the clean water and blotting cloth,
and kneel in the hay and fenugreek.
Your knees shake and you smell the ox.
“The messenger called him Son of God,
but never told me how soft his hair
would be,” you whisper, tired and awed.
The swaddling clothes are threadbare.
As your post-partum womb pulls tight,
your soul, one drop of dew, magnifies
the sun: the gothic timbers light
and bloom, a rose on Jesse’s tree.
In rising smoke you feel your lowly bones
lifted up, up from pediment to spire;
you choke on joy; kings are thrown from thrones;
again we’re blessed in unforeseen fire.