Holy Week — Magi’s return

It was so long ago — a camel’s life.

Balthazar, Melchior and I saw the star,
met near the Euphrates gardens
then month after month we rode,
traveling all night
to Roman territory, Judea.

We stopped in Jerusalem
to see the puppet king,
a different Herod than reigns now
though just as afraid —
aren’t politicians always?
that there might be a another
kind of king.

His advisers directed us
to Bethlehem,
according to their prophets,
but we were wise men enough
to ignore his not-so-cordial invitation
skirting the palace,
on our way home,
so the baby was safe … back then.

Today is my first return
to the Jewish capital in all these years,
but somethings never change.

Me? Caspar. I was the youngest then,
now the only magi left,
but I can’t say I followed a star this time,
more a prayer-sirocco
like the whole world crying
in the desert wind.

His mother Mary
stared at me curiously
when I gave her child myrrh –
royal oil for burying the dead.

I hope she saved it.
She could use it now.

God, we remember all of it today,
for that was what they tried to end.

We stand at a distance,
watching love. amen.

Caspar by Jan van Bijlert


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