The Holy Innocents – A Poem

On a silent night

They came

Destroying the calm

With the rattle of armour 

And the swish of steel 

They killed as ordered by their jealous and insecure king

On a silent night

They slept

From the crook of Mother’s arm

They were snatched

And dispatched

Mercifully (one hopes) with a single slice or a single stab

On a silent night

They wept

For their lineage broken 

Their dream bleeding out

Before his first word, his first step

Leaving houses stained with sorrow that could never be cleansed 

On a silent night

They left

Their son spared but wailing

For innocents, young and old,

Corrupted by the evilness of ego 

Silence will not bring the redemption needed to heal the night 

I saw this sign in a yard on a recent walk. My cynical side said, “Really? Doesn’t seem like it…” My hopeful side said, “Um, I think that message was for you. ”

Today is the Catholic Feast of the Holy Innocents, a day we remember the male children aged 2 and under who were slaughtered by King Herod because he feared one of them would be the king who would take his throne (Matthew 2, specifically verses 13 -18). I did not set out to post a poem today. Actually, since I have been MIA, I was going to post something in the new year – one of my new year’s resolutions.

But as I was perusing WordPress for inspiration, I found this prompt from the Go Dog Go Cafe (although I didn’t use the prompt words in this poem) then these two articles about the Feast of the Holy Innocents was delivered to my email – this one from the point of a view of mother who had lost a child and this one that provides some background about these first martyrs for Christ.

Despite being a mother who has lost two babies and who has read about children being killed in schools due to gun violence, I have never really thought about the Holy Innocents. In the Christmas stories, it doesn’t get the same recognition as the shepherds or the magi. Maybe it’s because it’s such a horrific event and we don’t want to associate it with the happiness of Christmas. Maybe it’s because the killing of children has become so commonplace in our society that it doesn’t even register as something that needs special attention (think of refugee children running from war-torn countries or all the children living below the poverty line in the United States). Maybe it’s simply because this feast day is not celebrated on a Sunday.

Whatever the reason, today, I’m remembering all the innocents that have been lost and all the innocence that has been lost, specifically in the past six years. Maybe this loss started before that time, but as we close out 2021 and review what is happening in the United States of America politically and morally, I find the sorrow of a mother who lost a child welling up again.

©️ 2021 iido

9 thoughts on “The Holy Innocents – A Poem

  1. the fallout was and should be horrendous … too much slaughter for no rational reason makes us question their ‘sanity’!
    [I can’t see any picture here or on your actual blog Irma, so no idea what you’re referring to?]

    Liked by 1 person

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