Poetry: Joseph’s Story

[This is a poem I wrote December 2008 and performed at the Rubicon Cafe in Fredericksburg, Va.  Merry Christmas!]

Joseph’s Story

We had traveled so far, and Mary was so weak.
We settled in a barn, I had pleaded with the innkeeper and he let us stay there.
Mary was about to deliver, and I was at a complete loss for what to do.
I am a carpenter, not a physician.
I spread out the hay, as best to make Mary comfortable
She screamed and she screamed, as the baby made his way to us.
Oh God, I pleaded, help me
Help Mary.
Her screams echoed in my head as she pushed and pushed.
This baby was coming, whether we were ready or not
Whether the world was ready or not.
Mary pushed and screamed, she was a virgin and this birth was so hard.
The angel had told me in my dream that this baby was special.
But I was not prepared for this.
How could I?
My wife, who was a virgin, was giving birth
And it was just me and her, the animals present
And the blood
Oh dear God there was blood everywhere.
The baby screamed, Mary became suddenly quiet
And I didn’t know what to do.
I cut the cord and wrapped the baby in some torn rags I found in a corner.
I laid the baby in a manger so I could attend to Mary.
She said my name, as tears rolled down her face.
I took off my cloak and used it to stop the bleeding.
The baby kept crying and crying and Mary was fading fast.
There we were, my wife and I, in the middle of the desert in the cold of night.
In a barn, with a child that was not our own
Blood everywhere, baby crying, and I prayed to God.
Please, I need your help
We are all alone and I don’t know what to do.
Please, don’t let Mary die
Not like this, not tonight
Please…
Then  suddenly, there was a knock on the barn door.
I smiled and kissed Mary and said God has heard my prayers.
He has sent help, perhaps a physician, perhaps the angel from my dream
Has come to help us.
I ran to the door, swung it wide, and there stood shepherds.
Shepherds.
No physician.
No innkeeper who may have heard the noise and come to help.
No angels.
Shepherds.
I said, “can I help you?”
The shepherds said they were told by an angel to come to this place
To see the baby.
There I stood, my wife’s blood on my hands, my wife near death, the baby screaming
And God sends…
Shepherds?
I asked them to leave and they pleaded, stating they had come from a far way
To see the baby.
Mary said my name and I didn’t have time to argue with these men.
I let them in and took their cloaks to keep Mary warm and to attempt to stop the bleeding.
They stared at the baby, some kneeled, one began to weep.
How strange I thought.
Mary asked to hold the baby, and I let her and the baby kept crying and crying.
She said he was beautiful, but I couldn’t be concerned with that now.
Making sure Mary was okay was of up most priority.

We were there for some time, Mary had begun to get her strength back and the bleeding had subsided.
Mary was holding the baby, which was still crying.
I was so…worn and tired.
It was so late, we had traveled so far, the weight of taking care of Mary
Of taking care of this…baby that was not my own.
We hadn’t eaten, we didn’t have much money.
Where will we go, it is not safe to go back home.
These things weighed on me when another knock at the barn door
Who could it be now?
I opened the door, and there were three men, strangers from a far away land
Who had followed a star that led them here
To us.
To the baby.
I was tired, hungry, and had had enough of strange men coming to see my wife and the baby.
I asked the men to leave and they pleaded, saying they must see the child.
I told them my wife was not well and they needed to leave.
They said they brought gifts.
I began to shut the barn door
The one said he brought gold
I invited them in and told Mary we had guests.
Hey, we can use that gold.
They came around Mary and knelt, and Mary asked if I would hold the baby.
I refused.  The angel from my dream told me not to put Mary away and what to name the baby, but that was it.
I knew that child was not mine, I…needed to keep my distance.
The baby seemed to cry harder and Mary said, “Joseph, please”.
I walked over, took the baby in my arms and…
Yeshua stopped crying, almost immediately.
He looked at me, it was like staring at the sun in the heat of the day.
It was…
There I stood, holding Yeshua, as the angel had told me to name Him.
He looked at me as if somehow telling me it was all going to be okay.
I looked at Mary and she was smiling.
She said, “I think he likes you.”
I had never felt such….peace…such…calm…
And my worry, my fears, just…went away.
I held Yeshua close to my chest.
As I became uncertain who was holding who…
I don’t know what Yeshua will grow up to be.
Perhaps a teacher?
Perhaps a Rabbi?
Perhaps a carpenter like me?
But at that moment, a song erupted from my soul.
A song such as my ancestor David would sing,
Silent Night
Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright

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