Very early in the morning
of that first day,
while it was still dark –
though the cockerel knew
the light was coming into the world –
the women took charcoal
and set a fire beneath the iron dome
on which they baked flat bread;
took oil and flour and
kneaded them together,
and stood about –
under the cockerels bright gaze –
as the aroma of fresh loaves
and pungent smoke
rose in the House of Bread.
Their conversation darts about like sparrows,
swoops low –
How will this end? A child born under occupying might –
then glances off –
With every birth, hope draws first breath again
and fills its lungs with life.
The cockerel throws his proud head back
in praise and, young and old,
each woman in her heart decides
whatever good and evil is to come,
entwined, they own this son
There are two references to charcoal fires in the Gospels: the fire at which Peter vehemently denied knowing Jesus on the night of his trial, before the cockerel crowed to mark the dawn of the day of crucifixion; and the fire at which the resurrected Jesus makes breakfast as the first act of repairing their friendship.
Jesus’ mother, with other women, went to his tomb on the first day of the week, but found it empty and were informed by an angel that he had risen. Also present at the cross, the women among Jesus’ followers are consistently portrayed in the Gospels as being faithful, in contrast to the fickle men. This is not to say that the women did not need correcting at times. Once, Jesus’ family – his mother, sisters and brothers – came to take charge of him. Jesus responded by redefining and extending his family – mother, sisters, brothers – as those who shared with him in doing the will of his, and their, heavenly Father.
Bethlehem: in Hebrew, House of Bread (and in Arabic, House of Meat).