wonders greater

the sun beats harshly on crenulated battlements
as a string of horsemen and camels approaches the gate.
passing through the noble arch they give it but a glance;
they seek wonders greater than dust and clay.
silk rustles, gold glints from finger rings and bridle bells;
the streets grow full of whispers.
where is He born as King of the jews? they inquire of herod.
we saw His star rise in the east, and have come to pay Him homage.
a paranoid smile plays on his lips as he plans his reply.
is he not the king? yet he must remain demure.
the Messiah, he asks the scribes and scholars
tell me, where do the prophets say He shall be born?
priests with excited eyes rifle through piles of parchment.
in david’s city, for thus speaks the prophet:
 and you, little bethlehem, house of bread —
     you are by no means least among judah’s houses;
     for from you shall come a Shepherd-King
     Who will guide My people israel.
disturbed, he meets the travelers in secret, questioning
when this mystic star appeared. go, search diligently
for the Child. and when you find Him … tell me,
that i too may come and pay Him homage.
daylight deepens to dusk as the men again pass under
and out from the city’s proud gates. and there —
oh wonder of wonders! — before them shines the star.
they ride onward as fast as they dare, the light illuminating
their way until it stops over an unassuming house in a dusty street.
a knock at the door, a creak of hinges, and there before them
stands a young woman, barefoot and rumpled, but smiling.
and in her arms — oh Wonder of all things wonderful!
unbidden, they drop to their knees in reverent awe:
in this little black-haired drowsing child
Something greater than the wisest ones is here.