Carol Ann Duffy: Once In Royal David's City


  It was in that city. You could see
  that David had been there, right royal
  except for drizzle on the paving.
  Evening like dull pain. Stranger. Manger.
  Straw for the mother to deliver
  a message from heaven. The poor,
  the mean, and the moody. She was Mary,
  and the kid arriving at half-seven.

  Christ. Jesus. Messiah. His new skin
  crinkling in starlight. The local oxen
  paddled their tongues by the crib,
  dunking their thick heads in shadow.
  It was holy all right. You could taste
  the dew in his ducts, hear his gurgle
  like a broken tap. His maiden mother
  was as gentle as Carnation. Or Lux.

  Birth was a redemption, a revelation
  of good. Ace. Perfect. Brill. Bright.
  Love. Faith. The whisper of a child
  is like the rustle of feed. You look on
  and this is no playpen, no stable.
  Weak and helpless. No, he was going
  up in the world. Angel. A bright spark
  born in a stall. God's gift. No kidding.

From the book Send-Up