The Annunciation to the Shepherds
it's just like they said it would be: again, seraphim and cherubs and putti serving and studying in the clouds usually depicted as heaven, only this time we see the shepherds as they were meant to be seen, with families and babies wondering what this light could be, but deferring to it, kneeling before it as they innately understand it to be the presence of god and his avatars...and while this light casts clear shadows, there is also something in the way these men and women shield their eyes and bow their heads like they know there is no precedent for this and they know that, yes, yes, they have to go to wherever it is he's being born, the way is where the messenger's hand opens, they must gather themselves and go, and what tales will they tell when they return?...there will be more of that light, to be sure, and when their wives ask about the child, they will point to some of the babes being held in their mothers' arms, they will say he was just a baby boy born under a shining star, a baby boy whose birth was announced from on high, and who else was there, what was said, was there a festival, were there gifts, what was the point of it all...but the answer does not lie across the dessert with that mother and father and infant making their way to safety...it lies in the eyes of their children, the reason, the gifts, the celebration, all of it is right there in their sleeping faces, in their hungry cries...those shepherds were told only of the beginning, of the birth...did they ever discover that there was to be something afterward to change the state of living and dying for them and their children and their children's children?...and why tell these isolated people, why not the town they were staying in so they could at least get a decent room, why not all nobles, all kings everywhere, and not just the shepherds and the magi?...these are all the lesser mysteries we never ask about, never wonder about, never spend much time thinking about...but he was supposed to love them, too, wasn't he, the saviour, i mean: wasn't he concerned about these people living off the land and their animals, their trip through the desert to where he was born, their return trip back, their life of difficulties and tragedies mixed with some joys much as all our lives are...wasn't he concerned the next time they saw him, he would be the light calling to them, surrounding them, taking them to their new home with his father who was also him?...but he could explain all this faster than thought even as they asked what had happened, why he had allowed them to leave, why he'd never sought them out, why he had let them suffer and die and wait until he closed the door to hell for the rest of eternity to take them with him beyond the stars...and just what would he say?...maybe he would begin with a joke and say those angels weren't lying, were they, when they said they had some big news...
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic Christmas challenge.
Garth Ferrante is a complete unknown who teaches, writes, and makes games out of challenging his own creativity. He writes because he loves to, because he finds meaning and purpose in it, because if he didn’t, life would be lifeless.
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