The Shepherd -- By: H. Edgar Hix

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 25:2 (Spring 2011)
Article: The Shepherd
Author: H. Edgar Hix

The Shepherd

H. Edgar Hix

H. Edgar Hix is a poet who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He works with the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis. He blogs on the CBE Scroll as Hubert Edgar.

I saw the angels. God’s holy angels.

It’s all I used to talk about: Angels

and the baby with the tired young mother.

It was something to see. Scared me to death.

For two years, I talked about little else.

“Angels, angels,” my wife used to complain.

“Never anything practical, like sheep.

And always watching the carpenter’s son

like you didn’t have two sons of your own.”

Two sons of my own. The son of prophecy

and two sons of my own. A man blessed;

that was me. A man of babies and angels;

a man of sheep and heavenly hosts.

Did I mention the angels were armed?

No, I only mentioned their words. Bright words

I took to a tired young mother, dark-eyed;

a thin young thing with eyes that knew too much.

She asked me if they were armed. I wondered why.

Then the scholars came. Such a caravan!

Bethlehem was as overrun as when we were taxed.

Their camels were everywhere. Their men asked

questions, questions, questions. I told their men

about the angels, and told the scholars, too.

Then, the scholars left. Quietly, like thieves.

They left their gifts and took our stories.

They left, and the next night the carpenter

was gone, too, with the child and his mother.


Where were the angels when the soldiers came?

“Where?” I cried to God when the soldiers came.

The carpenter’s son was gone and so were mine.

Gone, and Rachel left weeping, “Gone! Gone!”

Prophecy is a two-edged sword. Angels

come armed in peace, but not in destruction.

I watched my sheep in empty nights. I watched

my Rachel grow darker and darker until

Bethlehem was more than she could bear.

She left me to my sheep, my prophecies,

our two dead sons. A man cursed; that was me.

A man of absent sons and angels;

a man of sheep and long-night silent heav...

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