Pilgrimage

By Jean S. Marshall

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    3rd Place Poetry Contest

    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—

    I understand:

    It is by the knowing

    that I see.

    Show References

    • a Moslem holy day