• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1707.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 184.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 590.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 48.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 170.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 584.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 584.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 608.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_many_to_one::init() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::init(&$view, $options) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_many_to_one.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_term_node_tid::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/views_handler_filter_term_node_tid.inc on line 288.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/robnoll/wunderkammermag.com/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 838.

Bethlehem Sonnets

 

“Say Heav’nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain
To welcome him to this his new abode?”

John Milton, “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”

 

I

Whenever vagrants come, early or late

in the season, missing all the singing,

too slow for gaudy lights, symbols ringing

skies above the barn, the place smells from great

heaps of damp straw, steaming dung. The sweat

of bodies, human and beast, ripens fresh

and pungent from hours, days of cold, wet

patience, punctured by the noise and hot rush

of birth. Strong men, women crowd close, perhaps

used to attending creatures that can crush

an instep with one quick move. Full lungs gasp

their joy, wake the whole-spent night from its hush.

How the stable earth molds to humble knees,

so tired from working hard to bend and please.

 

2

In the hymns, everyone, in awe, stands still.

In paintings, sculpture, virginity’s gaze

looks as pure and smooth as perfect marble.

Poets mark cold comings and holy days

with sentiment, or doubt, or ignorance.

At the mall, Santa himself kneels to pray

by the Savior’s plastic manger, his hands

cupped on his lighted heart; near lay-away

the wise men carry speakers on their trail,

vibrating with carols. No art form fails

to understand how light and song can make

nativity bearable. See, it takes

all the time in the world to come this far.

We sing, paint, sell our way to where we are.

 

3

I prefer the brightly painted scenes. Child

and mother transfixed in light—winter wild

tamed like sheep, grazing, safe in the distance.

I was not raised to stand the constant stench,

to believe sand and blood and calluses

beautiful as stars. To view this mess as

miracle I will have to come stumbling

over myself, hurting to bend, mumbling

doubts and rising with anything but sense.

Lower my eyes from the sky. Make me wrench

neck and mind. What kind of disappointing

God arrives like an infant, anointing

its slight body with dust and afterbirth?

God’s wild, homeless scent, constant on my skin

from, just once, having knelt at Bethlehem.

 

David Wright lives and writes in Champaign, IL.

Comments

Thanks, David, for this struggling.

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