I saw a lady on the street, no shoes,
One cloudy morning. And what is there to lose
On Christmas Eve, at seventeen degrees?
Lord knows, it's not what any one of us would choose,
But plastic tinsel laid on rubber trees
And snot-nosed kids on shabby velvet knees
Don't quite evoke a desperate birth in straw,
But golden childhood memories of warmth and ease.
It was while coming home from work I saw
That woman. Her fatalistic set of jaw,
Her stance, suggested a settled solitude.
One man, alone like her, died under Roman law,
Arms open, suffocating, stripped and nude.
Detritus of that life, that death, is strewed
Across the intervening waste of years.
We look away (perhaps for fear of being rude)
From suffering like hers. A clean man fears
The leprosy of secret Christmas tears,
But little guesses he the depths of grace,
For God himself, in lonely hours, bends down and hears
Her voice. The world that didn't make a place
For him puts up a babe with rosy face,
His plastic likeness, and decries the fall
Of public morals, thinking outrage can replace
The mercy that's implicit in the call
Of him who came to this, this muddy ball
And bore such cruel rejection for the sake
Of homeless outcasts shivering outside the mall.
We throw them useless pity, forced and fake,
But no one holds a funeral or wake
When all their frigid, weary days are done.
Christ died as low a death as theirs, dying to break
Down all the social walls by which we shun
Impoverished men. No timid hired gun,
He plunged headfirst into our earthly sludge
That he might make our scattered human family one.
He's coming back again, and he will judge
Correctly all our motives, every grudge,
Our every slighting of the Imago Dei.
He'll pardon or condemn. And then he'll never budge.
Against the awful coming of that day,
The LORD consented that the scourges flay
Christ's back to quivering strips. This was to bruise
The serpent's head in you. There is no other way.
Copyright by Ike Wassom 2014. All rights reserved.