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Profile of Joseph

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 29, 2013

Profile of Joseph

By Dorothy J. Roberts

His words are muffled in the folds of time
Concealing lintels over Mary’s door.
He leads a laden donkey through the lore
And plays his patient role in pantomime …
Perhaps on sabbaths, cool beneath the lime,
His father pared life to the Adam-core
For him, shaping a boy’s wild ways with more
Attunement to a still, celestial chime.

No lingering echoes legend Joseph’s home,
Yet his compliance hints, without a chart,
That the flowing breast of wisdom fed his youth;
That sweetness from Judean honeycomb,
Pressed by a mother to his lips, was part
Of him whose largo dreams unmuted truth.

What gendered Joseph that his heart should hear
The angel summons; his discernment guide
The troubled Virgin as the night grew wide
And time’s meridian star suffused the year?

What gentle heritage of hope could steer
His vision through a labyrinth, untried?
What courage, rooted deep within, denied
The hooded serpent of a whispering fear?

A manna from his forebears tinged his blood;
Their priestly trumpets quivered in his veins,
Their solemn altars marked the templed mind
Of the quiet Israelite who braved the flood
Of jeers that rumbled through Judean lanes;
Who talked with angels and whose way was kind.

His trail, wind-writhen on Egyptian sand,
Has under rimpled silver found its grave,
For desert is fluid as a breaking wave
And less than sea, is servile to the hand.
A veil is spun before the mystic strand
Of sphinx and pyramid. Luke cannot pave
The way with knowing, nor the Gospels save;
The Flight remains a phantom on the land.

But once, in Matthew, can his lathe be heard,
Faint as the first cicada’s violin.
And once we watch him seek, with anxious brow,
An adolescent son … Yet with no word
To point his personality, how thin
The cloth of centuries that shrouds him now.

More beautiful than bronze, his profile glows,
Faith on its Ararat among the snows.

(1949)



2 Comments »

  1. Oh I like this.

    Comment by Coffinberry — August 29, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  2. I’m glad you do — I really liked it, too. We so seldom think of Joseph (and I’ll bet at first glance most of us thought this would be about Joseph Smith).

    “But once, in Matthew, can his lathe be heard …”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

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