Darkness came in relative silence
to a cold, gray sky.  Beneath it,
a man, tired from too many miles
of travel, walked a dusty road.

His wife straddled a donkey.
She was uncomfortable,
about to give birth. The couple
stopped as soon as they could.

Having been ordered by the king
to report to their ancestors’ homes
to pay taxes, they traveled miles
and miles to the appointed spot.

Other travelers—hungry and thirsty, too—
stopped where the couple did,
huddling in an animal shed,
the best places to sleep already gone

to those who arrived earlier.
Curious eyes of many strangers
watched that woman in her labor.
About midnight, the teen-age mother

gave birth to a boy, wrapped him in rags,
nursed him, hummed softly.
Drought-weary shepherds herded sheep
in nearby fields of sand,

were discouraged at yet another night
with no trickle of rain.
So imagine their surprise
as the sky revealed an awesome star.

from Facing a Lonely West (Main Street Rag)

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