O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

We rode the creaking van through
rough non-streets of a squatters’ suburb.
Once-villaged families sidle up to
a city that is itself more sprawling village 
than metropolis.  Here it is monochrome:
red clay homes humping up from red clay ground,
hope fashioned from despair.  
The mothers cling and lose their grip
from hour to hour.  Yet on they go.
Love’s uneven rhythm clings to them, with arms
of children they keep bearing.

The jarring memory of hopelessness
since then is ostinato to my prayer
for all: O come, Emmanuel.  Ride the hills
and ruts of poverty, and take me with you,
Native Knowing One,
You, who holds the fathers and their children.  

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