WHAT THE WISE MEN BROUGHT


Foretellings are double-faced,

mixing chance and cause

fact with belief.

Suppose they sought Herod --

the star beckons ambiguously;

they’re aliens, unused to

local customs, lacking immigrant

aid, court interpreters.  Perhaps

they just stopped for a roadside

 

emergency, unaware

of the death decree:  heralds

streamed from the palace

blaring the message in brass

and plumed helmets; the cloaked

gravid flight towards an ill-sited birth.

 

Let's say that’s the meaning:

orthodox gift-wrap is tinsel.

What’s holy is kindness --

the task then and now

to show up.



Version first published in Rat's Ass Review, Summer 2020