Taste, and see that the Lord is good.
                                 -- Psalm 34:8

Taste the dust of endless highways
with tongues so parched they plead for thunder,
your only rest this worst of Fridays,
that hides the sun
from eyes too burnt to see the light
of day until it's gone.
Then drink the chilling rains of night.
For only angel tears provide us
with hope to carry on.

Taste the sweat that runs in rivers
down your back and in your navel.
Muscles melt and spirit withers
under the load
of rescued treasures you hoped would give
meaning to the road.
Leave your home behind, to live
in looking for a birth place, without
taking up abode.

Taste the stone of field and mountain
pushing through your shredded sandals.
While herded down for senseless counting,
you keep moving on
through over-crowded, hostile towns
till the child is born.
Then wrapped in rags on straw-strewn ground,
he's bred with beasts and left for foundling 
to be suckled by the dawn.

Taste the tears of mother's sorrow,
watching while her son is riddled
with metal bits that spit the marrow
from sturdy bone.
Blameless blood has bathed the door,
saving the home.
Unbloomed promise, plucked before
the evening for the feast tomorrow,
is served up to atone.

--- Mahlon H. Smith


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* Author's note: This reflection on Luke 2:3-7
in the context of the forced migrations of peasants
during the war in Viet Nam
was first published as a Christmas card
  (December 1967).

Author's sketch: Displaced Persons.

Collected Poems
Mahlon H Smith

copyright 2005
all rights reserved