Too soon Simeon's words found their mark
and Mary's heart was sharply pierced with pain.
Driven out into the dark by the angel's warning,
the young family slipped away from Bethlehem,
hearts beating in agonizing haste.
No safety for them now in David’s city
as Herod stretched forth his oft-bloodied hands once again,
this time to slay in sullen jealousy
the blameless sons of David’s line.
(How pitiable that he should fear as rivals to his might and power
nurslings at their mothers’ breasts!)
Mary wrapped the sleeping child tightly in her cloak
and held him close,
protecting him from the cold shadows of night
(and hovering sword)
and muffling any drowsy whimper that might reveal his presence
and draw death’s horsemen closer on their heels.
Might she then have heard behind her
terrified cries rise in an infant chorus of agony
and suddenly fall horrifyingly silent?
Perhaps she had sat that morning with Bethlehem’s young mothers,
smiling in maternal…
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