Christmas Poetry

by Lois Staas

Before Jesus was born,
            before the first Augustan census,
            the estimated Roman population was about 200,000 male individuals.

Before Jesus was born,
            the conquered needed to know they were conquered;
            crucifixion was a common form of execution.
            The god of Rome was Jupiter.

Before Jesus was born,
            all the known world ruled by Emperor Caesar Augustus,
            were ordered by law to register in their places of origin.

Before Jesus was born,
            What was the reason for the census? 
            Money.  The reason is always money.

Before Jesus was born,
            the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a stony, ten day donkey ride.
            A few died along the way.

Before Jesus was born,
            Bethlehem was a small walled town;
            those who arrived had traveled through the Sabbath.
            I Am Who Am was the God of the Israelites.

Before Jesus was born,
            Jews for the census overcrowded the City of David—
            bartering callous merchants for food,
            haggling infuriating innkeepers for non-existent rooms.

Before Jesus was born,
            Joseph and Mary--aching, wind-chilled, and hungry--
            settled into a stable attached to an inn.

Then, Jesus was born,
            and there was Christmas.


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