As if the infant Christ were never born –
Or fragrant as the meadows, smokeless-flamed,
Beeswax tapers golden-sconced had shone
On anti-Christ, and Power was His name
Callous Earth of winter seems as much,
Empty as if Christ had never cried
And waved his arms, transparent fingers clutched
Around his father's finger — did He die?
Not on Golgotha but in that stall
Where grasses soaked in sesame were lit
And vulgar shadows scraped against the wall –
How many mourning shepherds there would fit?
Yet we hear that seraphim rejoiced
And shepherds shook the moisture from their cloaks
Though royal nightingales were not in voice
And heralds of King Herod never spoke
They say the infant lived, unlikely child,
Who came to love the empty-hearted Earth,
So demon-ridden, foul and defiled
That only God could know what it was worth
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