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The Ass and the Ox

by Michael Wooff

Some of you may know how this story ends.
An ox and a donkey became good friends
Having met once in a meadow where they
Frolicked, rubbed noses and played in the hay.
One day, the donkey was taken aside
To be the mount for a woman to ride.

Her husband was Joseph. She was his wife.
In a carpenter’s shop they’d shared a life
In Nazareth. “We’re off to Bethlehem,”
The donkey said. “And I’m going with them,
For Quirinius, Syria’s ruler,
Wants to count all in the tribe of Judah.
Apart from that, the wife is pregnant, too,
And wants to see some cousin she once knew.”

The ox said: “It’s a shame you have to go.
I’ll miss you. I might follow you, you know.”
“Perhaps we’ll meet again then,” said the ass.
A day or two the ox allowed to pass,
Pretending to be content and chewing the cud.
After that, he left, as he knew he would.

Now far from the Galilee area
The ass was trotting through Samaria.
They stopped at Jacob’s well to have a drink
And there into a daydream they all did sink.
The ass dreamt he was not alone. Many
Of his own kind, one male to two jennies,
Raise dust. Jacob to his brother Esau
Sends a gift, a consolation prize for
Esau’s having missed his father’s blessing.
He wants to avoid all future messing.

“Am I myself a gift?” the ass wondered.
He awoke. A storm came, and it thundered.
Meanwhile, the ox plodded forward wearily,
And time dragged on and on most drearily.
“Perhaps they’ve stopped off somewhere,” said the ox,
Gazing at pastures where sheep grazed in flocks.

Ahead, the ass with Mary on his back
And all of them now rested, back on track,
Came into Bethlehem. Mary, upon dismount
Of weight had not lost any to count.
They’d stayed en route with Mary’s relative
Who, better off than they, had food to give.

Because of this, the ox caught them up:
For him to see the ass again’s enough.
They found a stable, slept on the bare earth,
And Mary to her precious child gave birth;
And to his father’s calling he would be true
And chairs and tables make of finest yew.

Copyright © 2019 by Michael Wooff

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