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  • Writer's picturePhil



Hail Joseph, passed over among men, Generations shall rise and say: ‘Who’s he?’

But listen – I have a history,

a family, a name,

All I wanted, is what most men want,

to take my place,

to play my part …

Not such a vanity, I don’t think,

just what any man might ask.

That my children would recite

my name in the genealogy,

That when they told the story

they would tell my part,

When they gave thanks –

it would also be for me!

I hardly knew Mary,

she was young and I was older

The way things were

we didn’t mix much;

She was shy at the ceremony –

shy and veiled.

When they told me,

I didn’t shout and scream,

I didn’t want to kick the dust up

into a great cloud of shame,

It just wasn’t what I felt,

I felt only that tremendous weariness

a man feels when something good

has been lost, a sadness too deep

for tears, a wound too deep for words;

I felt a need to turn within myself,

a need to hide, I longed for the nights.

Hail Joseph, blessed among men.

It was at night, the angel spoke to me,

All fire and feathers,

like an angel should be,

beautiful and wild, and strong

The Angel said: Joseph,

the child is God’s,

don’t be afraid, Joseph,

the child is a Holy Ghost child;

don’t be ashamed, don’t be afraid!

So when you sing the names, my name should not be there,

Or should it be? Should I not stand with childless Abraham

and with all these fathers of the nation,

and all of whom were impotent to kindle life sometimes but unlike them, the power of the promise

didn’t flow out through me.

I am the man God set aside,

the man God did not need

to light this light,

the man God could not use

to fire this fuse.

(I didn’t even get to choose the name)

I lost all this,

I lost my place in time

and this instead, this unsought gift which comes not through my loins,

but through my hands

and heart

and head.

This comes instead;

the power to care

and raise this boy-child up

to be a different kind of man …

And to be a different man myself …

Hail Joseph, blessed among men.

Let this same mind be in you which was also in Joseph,

Who did not think equality with God something to be snatched at,

But humbled himself, taking the form of a carer,

He was obedient before the gift of life,

Even life given without the help of a man….

Hail Joseph, Godfather of God.

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