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Truce

Winter 2016 - Vol. 58, No. 1

 

This poem appears in the Winter 2016 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.


 

Ignatius, green-eyed and ominously sable,
Is guardian of this lowly wayside stable.
From his rafter site he watchfully beholds
As the miracle Nativity unfolds.

Here are the mother and her shining Son,
Here, Joseph in wonderment looking on;
Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar
Offering gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Three shepherds enter from the starry field 
To witness the presentation of the Child, 
Guided by a sphere of ardent light
That casts a silver silence upon the night.

All is always as it should have been
To fix in reverence this eternal scene—
Except for gangs of drunken rats that race
Hither and yonder all across the space,
Scrambling and quarreling. They squeak, squeal and chitter,
And make an unholy mess in palm-straw litter.
Their behavior is a sickening disgrace
As welcome for the awaited prince of peace.

Ignatius is displeased. He could descend
To deal them each a just and sudden end.
But this one night his duty is to forgive.

Besides, he knows their names and where they live.