María stumbles on the road
into town and falls, baby first
on the baked earth. José
stares at his virgin bride,
his exile, his horn of plenty. He crouches
to help her up, but she shouts “No!”
He must apologize for the strange
look in his eyes, for handling her
like a stone the moment he first
knew her weight. The stars,
pin pricks on the skin
of heaven, look down: here
are the children of earth, frozen
in the wounding that precedes hope.
No words redeem the time,
or take the pain away. There is
sinew and bone break and breath.
María and José look at each other
in the last dirt before Bethlehem.
Their eyes are cradles where no child
has yet been lain. José nods,
leans María into his shoulder,
and as the two rise as one, her water
breaks onto her robes and his,
his feet and hers, the dust, the stone,
the river under it all.
They walk, quicker now. No donkey,
no angel, no choir. Just the hurried
birth racing like wind. This child
will not wait for shelter,
his name rushes headlong
through the dark tunnel
that billows into waiting hands.
There is hay and straw enough.
His skin will be wrapped
in the softest cloth. Poor men
will bring songs. No house
dare hold this child.
Patrick Cabello Hansel has published poems in over 40 journals, including Isthmus, Red Weather Review, Ash & Bones and Lunch Ticket. His novella “Searching” was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News and his book of poetry “The Devouring Land” will be published March 2019 by Main Street Rag Publishing.