Outside the cathedral
I wept against a pillar of black stone
Knowing that I would spend my life in outer rooms
Neither for flight nor falling am I made.
My soul ever goes a strolling pace;
I am remote
Alike from glory and destruction
In that chill, star-shot stable where a child
was laid by his girl mother in cold straw
(A white rose blooming in the stubble field
Of our barrenness)
I heard those moon-struck shepherds from the hills
Muttering of angel prophets and of peace,
Of a great dawn at midnight, singing skies,
(Hallucinations born of loneliness).
I saw them bow themselves among the beasts
Crouching among the oxen worshipping.
- I spoke in friendly fashion to the girl:
"Your baby has such lovely eyes - his father's?"
And turned back to the city.
It was I
Who on the barren hill called Golgotha
(As bare it is as water polished bone)
Saw the white figure writhe against the sky
as wax twists under flame;
And thought: "A petty criminal, no doubt,
How barbarous our laws."
In casual compassion watched a while,
And turned back to the road.
Janet W. Boatner (1931-1979) held a doctorate in medieval English literature and taught classes in fiction at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California.