Safely through the crowd that pressed her,
Piloting a Syrian lass,
Careful hands upon the bridle,
Joseph walked beside the ass.
Dark eyes lifted, anxious, searching,
Watched her face against the gloom.
Close he leaned to hear her question,
“Do you think there will be room?”
Swift, his reassuring fingers
Smoothed the blue folds of her dress;
There were words, if he could find them,
To divert her weariness.
“I am sure of shelter, Mary.
Do not think of it again.
Watch the lights that gleam and flicker
On the hills above the plain.
“Yesterday, as we were resting,
Two fine lads, or did I tell,
How they watched you, asked me questions
Standing there beside the well?
“One said, ‘Have you far to journey?
May I take this wine to her?
She is beautiful, a lily;
Is she wife or sister, Sir?’
“They were stalwart boys and gentle;
Tall—perhaps you noticed them.”
Joseph touched her, “Are you sleeping?
Mary, this is Bethlehem.”