Man on Donkey

By Peter Steele, S.J.

Beaten, still breathing, as awkward as a dog,

He swags across the donkey, unaware

Of who’s beside them, footsore in the slog

Uphill for shelter and a kind of care.


Under the bloody bandages, some oil

Soothes where wine has washed away the dirt

To leave him clean and mortal. Alien soil,

Continuing fear, is mingling hope with hurt.


Downslope, the priest is hustling on his way,

Clean as a whistle, and the levite too,

Who thought that pausing meant the devil to pay,

And all the hours awarded them too few.


By the plodding beast, wordless and out of time,

The stranger braces once more for the climb.


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