Christmas Child

by Paul J. Willis

When you were born, sycamore leaves
were brown and falling. They sifted
through the stable door and laid their hands
upon your cheek. Sunlight bent
through cracks in the wall and found
your lips. It was morning now.
Joseph slept, curled on the straw in a corner.

Your mother offered her breast
to you, the warm milk of humankind,
of kindness. You drank from the spongy
flesh as you could, a long way now
from vinegar, but closer, closer,
closer than the night before.

She cradles you, O Jesus Christ,
born in blood and born to bleed,
for this brief dawn a simple child, searching
the nipple, stirring among the whisper,
the touch, of sycamore.

—from Say This Prayer into the Past

Poem of the Month: December 2014

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