By Jack Stewart
In Mary’s lap the infant Jesus takes
what looks like a cherry
from an angel. To the side, another angel,
a little older than what Jesus will be
when he realizes he is holy, watches
to learn how it’s done. Joseph
is bored with angels and reads a book
while leaning against a rock.
In the inlet behind them, two men
are poling a skiff and casting a net.
Behind them, a bridge no one is
crossing, and behind that, a city
that has barely awakened, maybe
a few housemaids carrying a rug
to a window, or a street sweeper has
just started work in an alley.
Later, Jesus will drop the stem
into the underbrush, but now
he is fascinated by a piece of fruit
that would look like a king’s gem
on his chubby little hand.
Mary is glad he has something
to distract him.
Will the soldiers really care
about running down a family so common,
and how could they track them
when a few flaps of an angel’s wings
would scatter sand over footprints?
Could the dogs resist the smell of
the fish the two men will bring
to shore? The three will escape,
but not primarily because
angels have softly shaken
their shoulders and told them
they should start out, but because
while the very rich receive
prophecies, the rest of the world
doesn’t care about a poor couple
who have disappeared with their child
into the dark banks of fern.
Jack Stewart was educated at the University of Alabama and Emory University and was a Brittain Fellow at The Georgia Institute of Technology. His first book, No Reason, was published by the Poeima Poetry Series in 2020, and his work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poetry, The American Literary Review, Nimrod, Image and others.
Jack's other work on Foreshadow:
The Return (Poetry, September 2023)
Camel and Needle (Poetry, October 2023)