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JOSEPH, THE CARPENTER
 
 

When she told him, his thoughts had hurried 
to how people's tongues would do her 
in, but he had given his word. 
The union, too, was his in part, 
and joints grow firmer when they cure.

If he could have reached her heart 
and felt it beat around the truth 
and kept their plumb right with the earth, 
he wouldn't have cared what to believe 
or where she'd chosen to lie.

Either he was hers, or he'd grieve 
he wasn't. The rest was in trust. 
Doubtless he had breathed a dumb sigh, 
settling to pronounce his ache 
like an old house timbered to adjust,

but from his ancestral namesake 
he'd learned how jealousy had rivaled 
brothers with a simple coat, 
of many pelts, and how a goat's 
head had seemed to rest on their shoulders.

Within a generation, he swelled 
with pride at crowds this son had bolstered 
with his talk of being a child 
and of life found in his father's house, 
and he almost believed in angels.

Then he tried to remember how 
he had been the crux of their problems, 
but it had all faded away 
like most of what we do or say 
till you might as well say it's angels.

After all their years together 
her olives were firm to his tongue, 
her grape wine, her fragrance cedar, 
a tender lamb whose fleece had clung, 
he felt he'd known an angel.
 
 

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