By David Starkey
Starry-eyed with love for God, Mary announces to the priests she will be that rare bird: a fourteen year old who refuses a husband. The rabbis worry, however, that she will defile the temple if she’s allowed to stay.
Call all the widowers, the chief priest decides. Have each one bring a branch stripped bare.
The herald trumpets. The old men gather, Joseph least among them.
His branch is a dried twig, snapped off and trampled, but when his turn comes to hold it up, a dove alights, leaves begin to bud.
A quick huddle among the divines.
Some muttered words. A few cups of wine.
It isn’t much of a wedding.
Later that night, Joseph is snoring. Mary sneaks outside, looks up at the constellations. She knows each has been given a name by the Greeks and Romans. She just doesn’t know what they are.
David Starkey served as Santa Barbara’s 2009-2011 Poet Laureate. He is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Santa Barbara City College and the Publisher and Co-editor of Gunpowder Press. His textbook focusing on flash forms, Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief (Bedford/St. Martin’s), will be in its fourth edition in 2021.