It is simple for her to steal
off into the night
and leave her sleeping family
to their snores on the straw-tossed floor.

She slips free of the links
that fasten her to life—
her mother, father, and Joseph,
all dwindle in her mind
like a haze of memory,
she can hardly see
them in the distance behind her.

There is only Nazareth,
the white washed dwellings
that crown the hilltop
tapering down the sides;
only the crickets
bawling their buzz to the moonlight
and the sound of two lovers—
concealed by winds whistle and lost
among olive branches.

His is the face of love,
shadowed in darkness,
eclipsing the bulbil-
moon as she looks up
to the gleam of his nimbus.

For three months his chiseled body
shrouds her own, and then her
swelling belly
forces her to stay home.

When Joseph rubs a warm hand over her
lumped mound, conjured stones strike her skin
and she recalls that angel.

©Shawn Nacona Stroud

*This poem was previously published in the Crecent Moon Journal