The Sound of Direction

"Let us go straight to Bethlehem . . ."  — Luke 2:15

When the angel appeared,
the shepherds were in the hills,
the dogs circling the flocks, the men
tending the fire. Then the eldest stood watch
for the drowsing others
under the stars.

There was nothing out there
they couldn't handle. They were solid,
made of the ground they walked upon,
easily moved by song and poem, scornful
of city folk, calloused in hand, sparing of speech.

The angel shot the night wide open
in an instant, towered in flame
before their hooded eyes, flooded their
ground with a sounding brightness.

(O smallest you, how will you survive
the baptism of this fiery purity?)

There were directions: a baby in a manger in
Bethlehem. They left the sheep with the oldest one —
setting deference aside — to run breathless
into the night. They found the place alright,
animal instinct tracking lightly and sure.

Gods and angels: what did they know of such?
This child's holy fire burned so deep
that closed eyes saw it all entire
for nights and days and memory of years.

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