Wednesday, 7 December 2016

What was Joseph Doing When Mary was Conceived?

Immaculate Conception, José Claudio Antolinez, 1635-1676

What was Joseph doing
When Mary was conceived?
Was he sanding some wood?
Crafting in the temple?
Laying asleep in bed,
Dreams rushing through his head?
Did he know that his wife
Had risen like the dawn?
That his destined best half
Had fallen like the dew
On earth’s dry arid grass?
She the spotless and pure
Who would make the Unseen,
Seen in her flesh bestowed.
Had he have known at all
Yes, he would have believed,
But later on he knew –
She was immaculately conceived.

Old Israel sighed and heaved
With elation and smile,
And all the prophets ‘neath –
Patriarchs, matriarchs,
The righteous pagans-dead,
And all the just rejoiced:
“Dawn has come, Spring is here,
Soon shall come Rising Sun
The Lamb whose David’s Son,
Who’ll open up the gates
Through she in whom His heel
Already crushes eel:
Moses New, Promised One –
The Joshua we’ve sought
Whose blood this Ewe has bought
As first fruit of First Fruit
That rose, not fell from tree,
Which all alike will free,
Tearing from Egypt’s breast,
And who’ll lead us onward
To that land Abraham was bequest.”

This hymn of limbo’s blest
Sung as Ann and Jo’chim
Beneath the shining gate
Embraced in faith of child,
Was heard not by Joseph
But vaguely did he feel,
Deep within and so real,
All the yearnings of them
At once in yearning his
For Messias, his kin –
A shoot of Jesse’s stem.
And yet at once in heart
An ocean swelled and roared:
Joy that no man had known,
For his deepest own self –
The aurora of God –
Embraced and held most fast
He the First and the Last,
And she the Dawn now cast;
For ev’n though alone:
No wife, no child his own,
And chaste vow set in stone,
On that morn, eve or night
When Mary entered world,
Inside he held – delight! –
The woman and the child
Whom one day in a dream
He’d be told to carry
Safely into Egypt’s
Wasteland, a refugee,
Where eventually
Mary would wean from breast
The child whom He would serve faithfully.

So doing what was he
When Mary was conceived?
Adoring the infant
And protecting her seed,
Waiting for its God-shoot,
Without him knowing then
He’d be the one to hold
This immaculate stem
And its Davidic shoot
Which ancient hands and ploughs
Did sweat to see them bloom
But which only Joseph’s toil
Would reap and house: yea now
Secretly in his soul
Where Mary now dwelt
And the Word through grace felt,
But in the flesh as well
When the harvest was ripe,
But for now as Mary
Hid inside blest Ann’s womb,
And Word in high cacoon,
Joseph either worked or
Dreamed, unware that he’d hold them soon.