Celestial navigation

stars

*

This had to be the star that Zoroaster saw
in his mind a half-millennium earlier;
this had to be the long-awaited star for naught
in nighttime Persian skies was ever pearlier.

*

All the magi were delighted indeed to see
this heavenly sign, knowing what our prophet said,
and all of us agreed to choose by lot and send
a few of us with gifts to whomever it led.

*

In ensuing centuries we became well known.
And while there are those who forever call us wise,
we were only aware of all we did not know
and able to give treasures money never buys.

*

In search of a source of new, enlightened wisdom,
wherever that star led, we were willing to go.
We humped across countless dunes as undulating
as endless waves and over mountains capped with snow.

*

Our nocturnal pace slowed for nothing, our camels
so content, those surefooted ships of the desert
who bore with dromedary dignity their loads
of men and food enough to keep them fit, alert.

*

The camels carried, too, a cargo of caskets
carefully filled with frankincense and myrrh and gold:
fitting gifts for a new king destined to die young,
according to what the prophet Micah foretold.

*

For a fortnight we followed until finally
the star stood still above a town we thought too small
to be the birthplace of royalty; but as we
entered a stinking stable we knew, despite all

*

the odd circumstances of such a humble birth,
we stood before a babe unique in all the earth.

— Eugene Platt, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, S.C.,  and St. James Church, James Island, S.C.