! E P I P H A N Y
January 6 is coming up –
end of the ‘twelve days of Christmas’:
scrape up the Christmas cards –careful
to note addresses where they’ve changed, and
the people who sent to you this year, when
you didn’t send to them..
out with the tree before
it sheds any more needles,
box the decorations into the loft;
yet not an end, but a beginning,
as Eliot might have put it; a cold coming they’re having of it;
they’re still some days away,
the way harsh; the land, strange;
the camels finding harder tread than sand..
for devotees and followers in their footsteps
we’re curiously incurious about that myth
we love to love – is it because
we fear to look too close?
Twelve days they took, measured by the star;
men of wisdom seeking for the birth of some greater love;
what then was needful? Did it need
twelve days, perhaps, for that babe to adjust
to earth – as if from some divine ‘entry burns’?
Or twelve days for his mother to adjust
to heaven in person present?
And what meanwhile, did the shepherds do?
Even if they were nomads, they could not have been
many Palestinian hills away? Or were they asking round
the inns and stables for some strange event
which they would only understand
when they chanced upon it?
Twelve days for the stabled animals
and a family which evidently did not rise
on the local council’s temporary housing list,
to get to know each other (and we are to assume
they must have popped out at some stage, to enrol…) :
Epiphany: the ‘showing-forth’;
today we’d call it
a media opportunity.
No photoflash, recording gear, among the hay and straw;
just stillness, silence, a baby’s smile; homage unrehearsed;
was there more movement than the old masters portray in paint?
what words were said – for surely there were words?
What light, though, shines, like infra-red,
what songs are sung, like ultrasound,
what magnet draws the iron aged hearts of all:
wisdom, a stable, cattle, a new-born, love.