Husband, it is time.
He walks ahead of my trudging animal;
his shoulders slump a bit
from the landing of my words.
The rope slackens when he stops. He asks,
“Are you sure?”
At my nod, he points
“Just ahead” to torches along the outskirts.
Innkeeper, it is time.
I watch him speak to the old hunched man;
his hands reach for coins
to place in eager wrinkled palms.
He returns at my breath hitch. He says,
As I nod, he wraps
“Soon, warmth” a blanket around my shoulders.
Mother, it is time.
I crouch in the posture of birth,
my belly hardens a final time to deliver
the promise by Gabriel.
I hear the cry. Joseph says,
“A man child.”
In my nod, he whispers,
“Emmanuel” a cloth around the baby.