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By Brother Augustine D. Towey

1.

I am the ox.

I am stupid, but worse I

Am heavy and slow.

So I stayed in the corner behind them

And my breath (not the kindest of breaths as well)

Made a blanket of air

For warmth.

2.

I am the donkey

(Some call me an ass.)

Dumber than dishwater,

Slower than boiled potatoes,

I had nothing to do that night but wait.

Later they rode me out of danger.

3.

I am the cow

The innkeeper lent them

Mostly for food

(Milk if necessary.)

Not meant for a stable, I belonged next door

In the barn with my others.

4.

I am the angel

With wings and flight

And an excess of light.

I had no song but a trumpet of words that said

Here’s what you waited for:

Ox and ass and cow and child,

Bewildered spouse and Mother mild.

Are you happy now? Pretty picture,

Not much else but to put them on a card.

5.

I am a shepherd.

I came with the others

Who nudged me from sleep

As I dreamt of her,

Of her long dark hair,

Of her long dark hair and delicate breasts.

I startled her away in my dream

And couldn’t wait to see if, awake, she

Was looking at me.

6.

We are kings.

There are three of us

Who come with gifts, but

Finally leave with faces of surprise.

We search for a king but found a child.

7.

I am the child

Resting on straw

Above me I can see the ox’s nostrils,

The cow’s great udder, the crisscross of timber under the roof,

And the face of the woman I believe my Mother.

The ass’s braying and the cow’s mooing

Shake me from sleep.

What is this place? Why are we here?

I have so many questions.

The answers will wait, I suppose, until later.

This is not what I imagined, not at all.

This poem by BROTHER AUGUSTINE D. TOWEY originally appeared in his 2008 collection “The Poem You Asked For and Other Poems” published by Arthur McAllister Press. It was republished on Christmas week of that year in The News. Brother Towey, the founder and longtime director of the nationally recognized Niagara University Theatre program, and a much-beloved figure in the Buffalo theater and arts communities for over four decades, died November 22 in Philadelphia after a long illness. He was 75.