Matthew’s Tale

For heaven’s sake – it was ages ago –
Those troublesome years before I was born.
I wasn’t here when the cosmos was torn,
And the holy of holies was birthed.
But of course I recall the day he stood
In front of my desk in Capernaum
As I tallied my taxes and smirked.
And he looked straight through me and understood
The contempt of my kindred, and scorn.
Then my home was suddenly filled with feasts,
With food and wine for our bankrupt hearts
And loving forgiveness and laughter.

So I must tell you – you who come after –
I took up my pen and papyrus reeds,
Collected the fragments, asked around
For memories garnered from everyone.
(I’ll leave the angels and shepherds to Luke!)
His risky remarks and life-in-death deeds,
His evocative stories – so artless, profound,
Other-worldly and earthy in one.
He could argue his case and cock a snook,
This unknown upstart from Bethlehem!
But noble, you know, of a Royal Line,
A Jew among Jews, well-read and refined,
And quite indisputably one of them!

But I want you to know – you who come after,
These strangers arrived from the mystic East,
With their lavish gifts and outlandish names,
With their gaudy dress and eccentric beasts,
Their noisy entrance, their rumpus and fuss
And bizarre astronomical claims;
But for heaven’s sake, it was clear from the start
That this was epiphany, this was the Christ –
And this child was born to be one of us.