Seeing the village—
low hills and brown and bare of grass and lambs
around the clustered shops and homes and stables—
this Bethlehem, I tell myself, is where the Baby lay beneath a star
while angels sang the shepherds down these hills
to see the Savior.
Seeing the city—
blue and cold under the alarming cannons of Ramadan*
and turning gold in the morning of a December day,
labyrinth of pungent passageways and stuccoed dwellings
coated with centuries of smoke and dust and blood—
to Jerusalem, I remember, the Child came, lost in wisdom,
and the Man here scourged rabble
from his Father’s holy house,
then gently healed the lame and blind ones there.
Seeing the garden—
gnarled branches on the twilight slope
where nuns sing vespers now inside a convent wall—
Gethsemane, I feel, was not in these gray, twisted trees:
but in his divine and breaking heart
and in the blood upon his brow—
he, kneeling here, gave all
for all he knew of what we are.
Seeing the hill—
ugly, jutting, lonely mount
where eager guides now sell their claim that this,
“This is where he died”—
I consider the power of Calvary:
I know it was for me.
Seeing the tomb—
a sepulchre at least like his
within a private garden place—
I imagine Mary looking up, hearing her name
and seeing—what I know by another quiet voice—
that he does live.
Seeing it all—
Jerusalem and Bethlehem,
and the stormy Galilee reflecting black and stars—
It is by the knowing
that I see.