It all seemed so straightforward. There was I,
no great catch, I’ll admit, just a tradesman
who’d been alone a few years too many,
and in a northern town where work is scarce.
But yet the match seemed good. Her family
was keen on me – and I on her, it’s true –
just a shy, blushing lass… I worried, though,
about the age difference. They said, don’t fret:
protect her, and she’ll love you. And besides,
her mum is keen on genealogy –
apparently we’re both of David’s line!
Not that I’ll be challenging for the throne
any time soon -you don’t mess with Herod!
We laughed, and ate, and by the evening’s end
young Mary and old Joseph were betrothed.
And for a fortnight, it was bliss… until –
she came to me, as white as leprosy,
said, Joseph, Joseph – we must talk… and wept.
Forgive? Why, I’d forgive her seven times,
or even seven seventies! But yet –
there is forgiveness, and there is what’s right.
She’s shown she is not mine, I thought, and so
it’s best that I just… quietly… let her go.
But then the angel came to me as well.
And that changed everything – again. Told me
that Mary was blameless – told me to stay
with her, protect her, and protect her child.
That was nine months ago. Now here I am,
bewildered, and a surrogate father.
And some protector I’ve turned out to be!
A five-day trek from home, no room indoors,
no midwife at the birth, just cloth and straw.
And now I’m left not knowing what to do.
For if this child is who he’s said to be,
then how can I raise him? Most of my work
is crosses for the Romans now – no place
for any child – certainly not this one.
I’d slip into the background if I could –
But yet, there’s something here that won’t let me.
Amid the fear and chaos – I feel – joy…
It all seemed so straightforward – once. But now
I have a bride to care for – and her child –
and I suppose old Joseph may yet learn
to live by faith, for her sake, and for his.
Part One of a Christmas Triptych – a set of three monologues (written some years ago and a few years apart!), providing perspectives on the Christmas stories from some of the characters therein. Try and read this one with a Yorkshire accent!