Aristotle wrote that women are incomplete men. I was raised on this with my mother’s milk. What is a girl when your firstborn could have been a boy. In my mother’s eyes, shame. In my father’s, disappointment, shame. Flawless would be a boy. Flawed would be me.
Christmas with a baby at the center just turned up the drollery of fate. Each year’s gift whispered, “Be a man. Someone notable. Do that for us and we will love you.” How unkind to have only a girl child to celebrate the birth of a King!
What child is this? Daddy asks. Mummy echoes, What child is this?
I ask, Dear God, What Child is this?
“What Child is this, who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping?”1
Now Christmas comes to a woman whose hair is thinning, whose hands and feet are deformed with disease, whose gait is slow, whose back is bent. Not under the weight of shame. She sees the One in the manger born and wonders that Love came down into the muck of a world where children cry themselves to sleep and no one hears or cares. Jesus, You came a long way. And so did I with You.
This, this One died lonely tree-hung to save a girl child from pitiless hands
Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1What Child Is This?
What child is this, who, laid to rest, On Mary’s lap is sleeping, Whom angels greet with anthems sweet While shepherds watch are keeping?
(Refrain)This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring Him laud, The babe, the son of Mary!
Why lies He in such mean estate Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian, fear: for sinners here The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through, The Cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word Made Flesh, The babe, the son of Mary!
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh; Come, peasant, king, to own Him! The King of Kings salvation brings; Let loving hearts enthrone Him!
Raise, raise the song on high! The virgin sings her lullaby. Joy! joy! for Christ is born, The babe, the son of Mary!
William Chatterton Dix, “What Child Is This?” (1865)
Donna's Go Dog Go Cafe’s Inaugural Haibun Wednesday
Eugi's Weekly Prompt: "notable"
Frank at dVerse asks us to write a haibun (prose plus haiku) dealing with fear. Unlike the trumped up fear of Halloween games, there are real fears that children deal with at the hands of a parent, their childhood stolen. Perhaps years from now in their adulthood, one will thank you because you noticed and cared.
Nightmares when they roughshod ride primeval, cross cave walls and closet doors, charm no one, least of all you, appearing on site like a combative cow to remind me that when you gave birth it was in pain, a pain that didn’t end with birth. For you it won’t be enough that the shamanic horse runs wild torment across my plain features, flushed hot, now cold with fear, gaping at the undisclosed terrain of days yet unrun, populated by masked faces finding a home where I cannot. Flesh-like you appear to say, “I screamed bloody murder, you devouring me inside out, the doctor said, literally, you were eating me alive, like some malnutritioned demon-child, and I’m just a shadow of myself. To haunt you. In whatever caves you may roam. Gypsy-cursed.”
Have you seen a cow eat its calf? A hen pluck out its chick’s eyes? A mother hate her child? From where does this malformation derive than in red misery, bitter burning coals, stone-shaped eyes that glitter from the grave to shriek and shriek and shriek?
I fear you. But it’s not what you think. Though you’re dead your pain inflicts me. Your strained neck as you push onward defying all but gravity, defying the gods of nature to take from you the child you will punish because you can’t punish them.
steel-born heart in sheath trampled plain of childhood’s corpse nightmare by firelight
She was mute all her life.
Though she spoke words
In dumb agony of reproach
Rage-built torment of unredeemed
Days past when deeds were done wrong
And wounds like serpent bites
Had devoured her tongue
Leaving voiceless fury, unsung tears
Among goaded offspring
Of jealous hate
Where a child of flesh
Fed on milky vinegar
Beneath her ravaged gaze
Hears mute anger
In jagged commands
And runs joylessly to the sound
Of her voice.