The night is cold: so cold and clear
that the bright stars above
seem closer: so close
that just by raising my hand
I can touch them. And I do.
They are my fingertip sparks.
I pull my cloak around me
for a little extra warmth.
But I am used to this hillside cold
where my wandering flock grazes
here among the wild rue and acacias
of the high pastures.
My flock and the circling stars are my companions,
and when I speak to my flock, I know
that they recognize my voice,
even know what I say to them.
At times I also speak to the high stars.
Then I must listen so carefully, so quietly
to hear the soft sighing of light
that is their astral language.
Not all can hear them, and even those who hear
that gentle sighing of the night
can know what is being said to them,
but I do, and I know that the stars understand me also.
Among my flock is a little one:
an orphaned newling, born out of season,
still uncertain of the world.
I feel her warmth beneath my cloak
and she feels my own warmth.
She is quiet now, asleep inside my cloak,
asleep beside my heart.
Tomorrow, when the stars are asleep,
I will carry her down the hillside,
down from these high pastures,
and we will both go into Bethlehem,
for that is what the stars tonight have told me I must do.
Painting The Shepherdess by Robert Gavin