Joseph the Widower – Christmas Eve

Steve’s poems and verses often capture something very large in a few short lines. His “In the Stable” manages to keep the earthly and the heavenly together: an iconic smile at the end offered to a grief-stricken Joseph in the shame-filled, smelly stable. We publish “In the Stable” again for those of you who, like Steve’s Joseph, are dealing at the same time with grief and hope on Christmas Eve:

The shame that old man Joseph felt
in taking Mary to the barn
was mainly that, of course, it smelt:
it reeked with sheep shit, donkey dung,
and cattle plops. The widower
knew wives who whelped were never clean
themselves until the midwives pour
the well water over their loins
and legs, wash front and back. His first
young wife had died in giving birth
to their third child. He shook his fist
at heaven as she lay in filth
and breathed no more. Sweet Mary mild
step-mother, virgin, pushed and smiled…

– Verse by Steve Shoemaker; introduction by Gordon.

CLICK “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” to hear today’s live BBC broadcast (10:00 a.m. EST) from King’s College, Cambridge England.  Merry Christmas to all our readers.

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