He hadn't meant to fall asleep--
The watchman had stood steady through the night
Waiting for the morning, waiting for the morning,
And for the king's coming at the trumpet sound.
The night was cold, and his enemies many, so
He set his heels into the rock to stand his ground.
But who, of course, watches the watchman?
And the clouds came and veiled the moon,
Still waiting for the sun's return,
And the watchman squinted for the stars;
The night grew longer, the hours ticking by,
And he still stood like a remembering stone.
But the next thing he knew, he snapped awake
To the cries: "The king has come!"
And he looked down from the walls to see the surrounding
City burning, light and heat incarnate,
And he felt a hand on his shoulder, and a voice:
"My boy, why couldn't you stay awake for me one hour?"
He covered his eyes in shame.
And the king replied, "Don't you know
That I neither slumber nor sleep?
Rise: I defeated your enemies in the night."
And it was only then that the watchman saw
His master's hands covered in scars.
* * *
And the herald came shouting in the desert places:
"The king is coming; come out, ye folk, and greet him!"
And the cry rose up from the gates
Of the city, echoed like wave upon wave,
Deep calling to deep: "The king comes
From a far country bringing treasure and peace,
Reconciliation with an ancient lord,
Comfort for a city ravaged by war."
And the people went out with their
Filthy rags to wash themselves clean
In the river--but some of them stayed, saying,
"Why should we go to meet him?
He is slow in coming, and there's work to be done."
And the king came, not with pomp and circumstance,
But in warrior's gear, with his treasures hidden,
To greet his ragged and weary people,
And exchange their rags for robes and crowns.
And he sent up a cry to the folk inside the walls:
"I was not slow in coming as you count sloth;
I was giving you time to still come."
* * *
And the king quietly stole into the city
To seek a woman, lovelier than lovely,
His beloved, his betrothed, his queen.
But he found her on the streets,
Threadbare, homeless, covered in dirt
And tears, garments rent, eyes filled with shame
And fear when he came to her and took her hand--
"Beloved, didn't you know I'd be back for you?"
"You don't know, you don't know what
I've done while you were gone--
I thought you weren't coming back,
And I gave myself to others..."
He didn't say a word, but folded her into his
Embrace a while, then turned to his friend
And aide and said, "You've heard all that has
Been said. So go and get from my treasury
The finest crown, the best of robes,
The most precious of jewels, for I came
For my beloved, to give her glory and beauty
In place of her shame; my battle scars were
Won to make her mine."
And he looked at her and said,
"I know everything, and yet, my beloved,
I'll still take you in, if you'll but pledge your trust."
And his friend went forth crying through the city,
"The king has taken for himself a wife--
Come join the wedding feast a while."
* * *
And the herald went forth through the city,
Shouting to the people both inside and out:
"Come, all ye faithful to the true King,
Come and rejoice in his triumph over our enemies!
Come and pay your homage!
"And come all ye unfaithful, you adulterers
And thieves and traitors, come join and receive
Forgiveness and blessing!
Come receive mercy and clemency,
Reconciliation and peace!
"For he comes with healing in his wake,
Riches for the poor, justice for the oppressed,
Food for the hungry, exaltation for the humble!
He will come and turn the world upside-down."
And the king came to the city with his bride,
Now both arrayed with royal splendor,
And he looked on the people, and he started the work