[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0982861249″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41m37P6RZ5L._SL160_.jpg” width=”108″]Tania Runyan is author of the
2012 Englewood Honor Book, [easyazon-link asin=”1602260095″ locale=”us”]A Thousand Vessels: Poems[/easyazon-link]
These two poems are found in her collection:
Simple Weight: Poems
Paperback: Future Cycle Press, 2010.
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Joseph at the Nativity
Of any birth, I thought this
would be a clean one,
like pulling white linen
from a loom.
But when I return to the cave,
Mary throws her cloak
over the bloody straw and cries.
I know she wants me to leave.
There he lies, stomach rising
and falling, a shriveled pod
that does nothing but stare
at the edge of the feeding trough
with dark, unsteady eyes.
Is he God enough
to know that I am poor,
that we had no time
for a midwife, that swine
ate from his bed this morning?
If the angel was right, he knows.
He knows that Mary’s swell
embarrassed me, that I was jealous
of her secret skyward smiles,
that now I want to run into these hills
and never come back.
Peace, peace, I’ve heard in my dreams.
This child will make you right.
But I can only stand here,
not a husband, not a father,
my hands hanging dumbly
at my sides. Do I touch him,
this child who is mine
and not mine? Do I enter
the kingdom of blood and stars?
This poem reprinted here with the permission of Tania Runyan.
IMAGE CREDIT: Angelo Bronzino – Adoration of the Shepherds (Detail)
via Wikimedia Commons.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com