by James B. Nicola (previously published in "Texas Review")
You should have seen the Christmas crèche inside our parish church. I paid a buck and made a wish under the chapel arch
then lit a votive candle. They had placed twelve dozen an- imals around the holly and hay, and there were three wise men,
Mary, Joseph, and a cradle— you know the layout, then? I felt right in the middle of the story and the scene.
Then someone must have flicked an ash— in spite of the big red sign— and lit a straw, ’cause in a flash the church and crèche were gone.
The hay had been dry since August, and the figures were all wood, as if some Mastermind had planned the end of them for good.
Our parish had no funds to call upon, but we learned to pray by the sooty stones of a fallen wall and kneel on soggy hay.
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on December 21, 2019