Waiting for the Second Coming
The cattle are lowing
but there’s no baby in the manger. Christmas day
dawns cold and bright without a star to follow
or Wise Men who come trudging over the whitened
hills. All I see are the swaying backsides of Guernseys,
tails flicking flies out of habit. They waddle
like old ladies answering the call of church bells
weary from lugging oversized purses
filled with life’s necessary nothings.
They stare in wide-eyed astonishment
that I’ve left the warmth of the house, presents
unopened under the tree as the others snore
snugly in their beds. The sucking sound
of my rubber boots in the mud draws them
closer. I lead them one by one into the stalls,
smear antiseptic on the udders, attach
the metal fingers. Liquid rushes through tubing
as the gentle massage begins and the collection tank
fills. I listen to the vacuum motor’s whir,
unthinkingly replace one cow with another.
If there’s a Messiah born on this day,
surely he would be here, nestled dryly
in the loft, adored by his teenage parents,
who have fled their own Caesars and Herods,
I want to rise from this damp straw
that smells of shit, urine and sour milk
to behold the radiance of his face,
the peaceful reassurance that miracles await.
But I’m afraid all I’d find is two scared children
holding a screaming baby, the bloody
afterbirth matted in the hay, a beat-up
Volkswagen hidden behind a clump of evergreens,
and their eyes begging the blessing of my silence.
As the last udder is emptied, a halo
of light descends from the loft window
to circle my thorn-crowned head, and it is finished.
~ The Grouch
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