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Mary’s long white arms
lift the baby high above her head.
He is seated in her palms, a pose

precarious—his head droops,
an eerie portent of the cross.
Through the open doorway

shepherds mosey closer
with their crooks. The mule
slobbers grain from the trough.

Blue shadows ring Joseph’s eyes.
Light sleeper. Keeper of dreams:
the intense maternal joy,

the pivotal birth. Mary’s
chin set, triumphant, determined 
as the star. See how it owns

the sky. On the infant’s face
a benevolence rewarding her Fiat.
Everything quietly breathing

in and out. Unseen, the tree.
Unseen, the bird in the leaves
singing like an angel.

—Elisabeth Murawski