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Poems for Advent 4


















Bethlehem


Pin prick on a map of stars

to lines that cross and hardly show

in the dialogue of connecting

contours and relief.


A man in a back street ' 1 star' hotel

basks in the flush

of his rooms fully booked

and resined wine.


In the adjoining makeshift porch

tourists jostle - shout;

clamour at a portable desk

after accommodation.


This could be any town

in a thousand mile stretch of hill,

sand and road; a place you pass

through on the way to somewhere else.


But at 6 o'clock a tired donkey

kicks up dust on the outskirts,

and a woman close to her time

groans at a first contraction.


Her husband, inarticulate but shrewd

asks for directions - help:

sifts through the permutations

and plants his feet.


The hotel owner on his rounds

locks necessary doors; checks

an outback stable and bolts the hasp -

when someone knocks.


And night is but a single star

that leads to cattle troughs

and a quiet empty place in hay

where heaven waits to be announced.


Jeff Guess





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