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The Christmas Star

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

It was winter.

The wind blew from the plain.

And the infant was cold

In the cave in the slope of a hill.

The breath of an ox

Warmed him.  The livestock

Stood in the cave.

A warm mist drifted over the manger.

Having shaken hay-dust

And grains of millet off their sheepskins,

Shepherds stared sheepishly

From a cliff into the midnight distance.

Far off were a snow-covered field,

A graveyard, gravestones, fences,

A cart’s shafts in the snow drift,

And, above the graveyard a star-filled sky.

And, nearby, unseen until then,

More humble than an oil-lamp

In a hut’s window, a star

Glimmered over the road to Bethlehem.

It blazed like a haystack, apart

From heaven and God.

Like a reflection of arson,

Like a farmstead or a threshing floor in flames.

It towered like a burning rick

Of hay or straw

In the midst of a universe.

Alarmed by this new star.

A growing glow, red above the star,

Was portending something,

And three astrologers hastened

To the call of that unprecedented night.

Behind them trod gift-laden camels;

Harnessed donkeys, each smaller than the one

In front, were going down the hill in little steps.

And all that was to come later

Sprang up far off like a strange vision.

All thoughts of the ages, all dreams, all worlds,

All the future of galleries and museums,

All pranks of fairies, all works of magicians.

All fir trees on earth, all dreams of children.

All the tremor of lighted candles, festoons,

All the splendor of colored tinsel…..

…. Even more cruel and furious, the wind blew from the field…..

…. All the apples, all the gold glass globes.

Part of the pond was hidden by alder trees,

But, through the rooks’ nests and  treetops,

Part of it was seen quite well from here.

The shepherds could make out clearly

The donkeys and camels plodding along the mill-pond.

– Let’s go with everyone and worship the miracle,

They said, closing their coats around them.

Shuffling about in the snow made them warm.

Tracks of bare feet, like sheets of mica,

Let over the bright meadow and behind the hovel.

Sheep dogs growled in the stars light

At the tracks, as at the flame of a candle’s stub.

The winter night resembled a fairy tale,

And someone from the snow-covered mountain range

Was constantly mingling, unseen, with the rest.

The dogs wandered, looked back with caution,

And sensed danger, and pressed close to the herdsboy.

Along the same road, through the same land,

Several angels walked with the throng,

Their incorporeality made them invisible,

But each of their steps left a footprint.

A horde of men stood around the rock.

Day was breaking.  The trunks of the cedars showed.

– Who are you?  Mary asked them.

– We’re a shepherd tribe and envoys from heaven;

We came to sing praises to both of you.

– You cannot all go in.  Wait outside.

In the haze before dawn, gray as ashes,

The drovers and the shepherds stamped about.

Those who came on foot bickered with riders.

By a log hollowed out for a trough

Camels brayed, donkeys kicked.

Day was breaking.  The dawn

Swept the last stars, bits of ashes, from the sky.

Of the vast rabble, Mary allowed

Only the Magi to enter the cleft in the rock.

He slept, all luminous, in the oak manger,

Like a moonbeam in the hollow of a tree.

Instead of sheepskin, he was warmed

By lips of a donkey and the nostrils of an ox.

They stood in the shadow, as in the dusk of a barn;

They whispered, groping for words.

Suddenly, in the dark, one touched another

To move him a bit to the left of the manger,

And the other turned: From the threshold, like a guest,

The Christmas star was looking at the Maiden.

Nina Kossman

I’m not much for organized religion, I think the God of the Universe is far to magnificent to be marginalized  by denomination, cultural  ideology or dogmatic politicians.  However, regardless of your faith –  let’s not forget the reason for the season.

Allow the spirit that resides in all of us to be renewed this holiday season.

I wish you peace, joy and renewal.

Open Our Eyes


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