by A.E. Stallings
Copyright (c) 2007 First Things (December 2007).
Christmas Eve, the Word made Flesh,
We put the baby in the manger,
But could not add them to the crèche—
They still had miles of doubt and danger.
They set out from the staircase landing,
Traveling lightly and untrammeled:
One was kneeling, one was standing,
And our favorite was cameled.
Past falling cards and other perils
They crossed the piano’s dark plateau
Where someone fumbled Christmas carols
And sang of silence, stars and snow.
They camped wherever they were able,
A potted fern for an oasis.
From shelf to windowsill to table,
Night by night, we’d change their places.
The thrill of our own gifts forgot,
No longer new, the batteries
Gone dead, at last they’d reach the spot,
One king already on his knees,
One kneeling, while the camel grunted—
Twelve whole days of Christmas hence—
To give what no child ever wanted:
Gold and myrrh and frankincense.