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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joseph's Complaint

If you ask me, and no one ever does,
The whole thing was a mess
From start to finish.
And I had to wade my own way
Through it.

The day Mary said yes
Should have been the beginning
Of my joy. She didn't bring
Much to the marriage. No
dowery. No connections.

But I didn't require much.
As one of Nazareth's working poor, I
Just want a wife to make a
home. Have children.
Carry on the family name.

It began to fall apart
When she told me she was
"with child" without me!

My rights under the law
Were clear. I could denounce her.
She could have been stoned.
I couldn't bear that.

So I decided to make it a nice
Quiet separation. A quick, easy
Divorce. That's the kind of guy
I am. No trouble. No big deal.

Then came the dream and I somehow
Knew that something bigger than me
Was happening with Mary.
I had to go through with the marriage.

Mary began to show and nothing
Could stop the village tongues
From wagging. Everyone knows
Everyone's business in Nazareth.

Women clucked their tongues and
Pointed at us. Boys walking past
Me showed me "the horms" with their
Fingers spread on either side of their heads.
Groups of me laughed quietly behind me .

Then came the news that
The Romans wanted to count us,
So that they can better tax us.
More money to make their boot
On our neck heavier.

To makes sure they counted
Every last taxable Jew,
We had to go to the city of our
Birth, so I had to return to
Bethelem, my old hometown
With my pregnant, unwed fiance.

As we got closer, her time
Got nearer. No place would take us,
So we found a barn just in time.
Mother and child were fine.
Both lucky to be alive.

I cannot help but wonder
Where was God in all this?
I have been faithful, trusting,
And what did I get for it?

I still have to struggle
To feed my family, am no richer
For having been faithful.
Everyone will doubt my son's parentage.
In our land, those not of pure
Blood are unclean, outcast, unholy.

All I have left is trust,
The trust that somehow
God is involved in the mess
Of our lives, and will make
Something good out of it.

I cannot imagine what that could be.
(For Robin Meyers)

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