short story
many faces of mary
song of mary
song of anne
song of joseph
fantasy art






The trees are spinning and I don't know what's happening. The stars are spinning quietly. It is a warm night. The grass is moist under me, wetting my rump and my shoulder blades, the kerchief still intact around my hair and neck. There are trees over there and over there. There are trees somewhere, and a brook letting its water fall and chatter.

It is dark, the sun set hours ago. I am resting here, our first nights journey on towards Bethelehem. Josef seems angry. He is quiet gathering sticks for our fire, rubbing two stones together. In the shadows, he scratches his beard. He is so old. He is older than my father. But he is my husband. And I'm lucky he still took me as his wife. I am very lucky.

In that way, I feel grateful to him, and I want to be helpful, but I am so tired now. He tells me to sit still and rest. He unties the saddlebags from his donkey, unties the ropes, unfolds a wool our wool blanket and kneels by me, laying it on my front, still not touching me. The tip of his beard tickles my face - I giggle, and he sighs through his nose.

I am such a fool.

Josef I never knew. He wasn't someone I ever laid my eyes on. Just one of the holier men I feared. I did what my parents pleased, learned to be courteous and sweet, to bake good challah, good bread, broil good meat. I can serve dishes and clean and wash and hang laundry, and take care of a small farm. So I will do this for him. My Joseph. My Joseph!

He was never someone I first I laid my eyes upon. There were a few in town. I used to whisper their names to my friends Leah and Ruth, after Temple. The men would talk, and , while we waited, so would the women. I miss Leah. She lived near me , our fathers were friends, and oftentimes we would walk home together, after the services, . She knew I liked Samuel, the coppersmith's boy. He lived in town so I didn't see him often. But his black locks, his smile. I could tell the girls giggled like hens in the yard when he neared. I tried not to. But she would elbow me-I couldn't help but blush...

Joseph set the fire going. It's a tiny flame. But I can see him better.

We walked all day. Mostly, Joseph let me ride on his donkey. When she was lagging, wearing down under all my weight, I would get off. The heat was searing. I have never taken so long of a walk before, not even to the yearly bazaar. My feet were tired. I hope God didn't hear-but sometimes I cursed Caesar and his stupid Romans - why when I am pregnant? Don't I have enough?

I thought about my mother most of the day, how she was probably cooking frybread and hanging out the wash to dry. I have never loved her enough. Once today I asked Joseph if we'll be seeing my parents again soon. He told me, "Hush now, the time's not yet come."

A few jackals were there at the waterbed this afternoon. Joseph ran his hand through the water , checking the silt before he filled up his pouch. Then he took my pouch, which I should have done! But I wasn't thinking. I was watching those jackals. I could tell he was too, but didn't mention it. They were squealing and snickering-as usual. Sometimes I'd hear them at night, but never this close. And Father would deal with them.

When I was very young, I would look at the stars and the sky and I was special. I knew that God redeemed me. I promised God that I would take care of all his things, all the sheep and the donkey we had, and the birds, I would watch over all of them for him, if any were sick, I would nurse them. God loved me. I lay in the bank , a mossy crotch of the riverbank and listened to the water swoosh by my feet. The voice of angels. God sang to me in angels' voices, and he promised that one day I would do something very special for him.

© 1990 - 2003 Katharina Woodworth

fantasy art