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Joseph's Soliloquy

Joseph's Soliloquy 
Speaking to her almond-brown hands,
shehad news for me.  
"The Messiah," she whispered. "The awaited one."
Her words caught by the coat and spun me backward.
In three swift moments I was deaf with shock
then feverish with shame 
and finally
what grief I felt
-for myself and for this woman I loved. 
All my life I've hoped for a redeemer:
"When The Anointed comes…"  I crooned,
savoring hope on my tongue like over-ripe fruit. 
But this is no wish fulfilled,
these desperate words from the girl I thought I knew, 
just the story of a frightened child
ducking punishment.
How could this happen to me, 
a student fervent in all things religious,
a man faithful to the rules?
Look at my hands, splintered and wounded.
The carpenter's arts come naturally.
I can shape works of aching beauty from raw wood.
But I turned this over and around in my brain
like cedar on a lathe
and nowhere did I see the blessing in it. 
In the end, pity was the emotion I chose. 
We stood huddled in the sharp slant of the moon's light
her face hidden from me.
Our heads naturally inclined together one last time, 
her swith slivered hope  
mine with a new and permanent sorrow.
Watching, you may have thought 
we crouched under a heavenly hand
that sheltered us from rain
and kept us from being swept away
in a fearsome roaring flood.
I didn't see the beauty in your plan
until you followed me into my dreams.
I always thought 
getting a king
would be like opening my hand to a gift
--nothing required but a simple "gimme."
Encased in armor, 
eyes flashing,
the soldier-king would ride into my world,
righting the wrongs of generations
All I would do is stand and cheer.
Prophecy is easier 
when you're not a key player in its fulfillment.
Now I see how much courage it takes 
to accept 
all that comes with a gift from heaven,
something my will-be wife knows already. 
When I am brave enough I will look into her waiting eyes 
andread a message written there,
Ancient Words
gathering themselves into a child
a savior
twitching restlessly to life.
- Shelly Barsuhn
Min-Emergent e-newsletter for 12/23/11