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Stable bleatings


Before we begin

Look at her,
At the child cradled across her arm,
Replete in milky sleep, perfectly composed;
At how her fingers fuss over his perfumed skin,
The cool heal of her palm.
In her magnificat of assent
She is kissed by mystery.
Already she has begun to mitigate
All that is obstinate, indifferent, cruel.
Shy vesper lights
Whisper in her eyes.
In the stable
Oxen shift the cud in their slow jaws,
And in the mothy dark
A spider watches from its lofty web,
A Herod.
On the hillsides, frost.
A ewe is bleating in a troubled dream,
A shepherd coughs.
The angels are shuffling their feathered silences,
brimming with a recklessness of song.

— Grant Fraser

Second Thoughts in the Stable

In the stable, there are animals
who know what it's like to deliver.
There is no option but to share
feed and shelter with them.
There is no going back –
my waters have broken.
Some people love the scent of farms,
dry hay, excrement, sweat from labour.
I could throw up.
Better out here than in the inn.
I feel unstable, with all conventions crossed:
Joseph is here. Who would have thought that?
I am too young, too small,
too unprepared to be a mother.
I wonder if it really was an angel.
What were You thinking?
What was I thinking?
What kind of crazy thing is birth?
I am attended by livestock
indifferent to my labour.
Like a child, I want a distracting toy
or Elizabeth to say the one encouraging thing:
All within me leaps.
There is no surely going back.
All within me leaps.
I bleat long, and long
to see my innocence
in my first baby's glance.

— Marlene Marburg


A tiny dot
a cluster of atoms
Creator of all life
into a cell
from light
to former glory
Creator of Light
by dark
in a sac
Creator of the mighty deep
in limbo
in so small a capsule
hands tied
Creator of all Space
in a cocoon
heart racing
bracing himself
for re-entry
Creator of all births
is born
to set us free.

— Janette Fernando

Grant FraserGrant Fraser is a lawyer, poet and filmmaker. His collection of poetry Some Conclusion in the Heart was published by Black Willow Press


Marlene MarburgMarlene Marburg is a member of the Spirituality Team at Campion Ignatian Spirituality Centre in Kew, Victoria. She is currently engaged in doctoral research into Poetry and the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

Janette FernandoJanette Fernando is a casual relief teacher, poet and editor. Her collection Two Edged was short-listed for the Australian Christian Book of the Year Awards in 2005. Since 2007 she has been Managing Editor of Poetica Christi Press and last year co-edited Reflecting on Melbourne, a coffee-table book of poetry, artwork and photography about Melbourne. 


Topic tags: Modern Australian Poetry, Christmas, Nativity, Magnificat, stable, Mary, Jesus



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Existing comments

just beautiful

irenamangone | 21 December 2010  

Yes beautiful indeed. Thanks very much.

Rosemary Keenan Gwelup WA | 21 December 2010  

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