Other Writing

Ox and Ass

Have they gone now? The visitors?
Only I’d quite like a bit of a rest now,
it’s been a hard slog these last few days.
Not that I’m complaining, mind –
I was happy to help – well, it’s my job,
carrying things, carrying people, getting stuff from A to B.
And I must say, this journey was an exciting one.
Not the route so much, but the passenger – the passengers.
Oh yes – I may be a mule, but I’m no fool. <ee-AAW>
I could tell that the one I was carrying – was herself carrying.
So that made it a bit of a challenge:
move quickly through the caravan, don’t waste time;
but careful to avoid the bumps and jolts.
And on these roads, at census time,
that’s easier said than done, I can tell you.
It’s <sniff> just as well I’m a trained professional. <sniff>
Nazareth to Bethlehem? Done and dusted.
Seventy miles, all told, about five days,
and all before the little one is born.
But I must say, I was a bit surprised
that the passengers ended up sharing my digs.
I know the little town’s still heaving,
but you’d think they could have found room at the inn.
Not that I’m complaining, mind –
I feel quite privileged, actually.
‘Cause when the little one arrived,
it was just him, the parents, and us animals.
And what a thing to witness! All was calm, all was bright…
And then those shepherds pitched up, with their pipes, and their lamb,
and that little drummer boy,
and frankly it all got a bit chaotic.
Not that I’m complaining, mind –
it’s just that I’d quite like a bit of a rest now.
So have they gone now? The visitors?

Yes, they’re gone – but the family’s still here.
The baby’s still in my manger. Oh yes.
Remember, donkey, you’re a guest here too.
And I am not accustomed to sharing my barn
with quite so many guests.
But I don’t mind.
It’s enough for me to know the child is safe.
I breathed on him a little, where he lay,
just to keep him warm, you understand.
I think I accidentally lowed a bit – <mooo> – I didn’t mean to –
the baby awoke – but no crying did he make.
Such peace is uncommon. Especially among humans.
And I cannot think it will last. Poor boy.
It won’t be long till he knows tears as well as smiles.
To be born here, on a night like this –
why, he’s defying death already –
but all too soon, I fear, death will come chasing after him…
But stop. I’ve become too gloomy. Don’t listen to me.
No, this boy will live forever.
So, donkey, what next for you? After you’ve taken your rest
and left my barn? Eh?

Well. I thought I might see if I can get a longer trip.
This last was seventy miles – I’m up for more,
I could do seven times that even.
And it’s just as well I am what I am,
I’ve always loved to travel.
Yes, a nice walking holiday would do me good.
With passengers, of course, to pay my way.
Perhaps this family will keep me on a little longer.
Perhaps I can persuade them not to go straight back to Nazareth,
but to go on tour for a while, take the scenic route.
Tell you what – I’ve always fancied Egypt.

Part Two 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. Yes, alright, this one is a duologue!

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