The Donkey’s Song

THE DONKEY’S SONG

I was young when all of this started,
I was nothing much more than a foal;
I was purchased to carry this carpenter’s wife
To sign the electoral roll.

It was some kind of administration,
The things that you humans do well.
We animals don’t have to fill in no forms —
We tend to rely on our smell.

His missus had been in a scandal,
Some people looked on her with hate.
I’m not rightly sure what had happened
But she hadn’t half put on some weight.

I remember that difficult journey,
It was tough every step of the way.
And then, at the end of our travels,
We found there was nowhere to stay!

This town it was packed to the rafters,
They were sleeping thirteen to a bed!
(If they’d asked me, I’d surely have told them,
You should always book up weeks ahead.)

In the end, they found some kind of shelter,
A cramped, tiny place we could stay;
It was draughty and dirty and smelly
And I didn’t think much of the hay,

But beggars can never be choosers
And soon things had got pretty wild.
And there on the floor,
in the muck and manure,
The missus gave birth to a child.

We animals knew he was special,
We didn’t need to be told.
It wasn’t the angels, it wasn’t the star
Or the incense, or perfume, or gold:

It ‘s just sometimes you know things are different,
Sometimes you know things are right.
And we knew there and then,
what God promised to men
Had come true on that cold winter’s night.

There were shepherds and angels and singing;
There were blokes with peculiar hats;
But the thing I recall was when Dad picked him up
And gave him a ride on my back.

Of course, he was light as a feather,
But I rocked him to sleep with each step;
And they put him down in this old food trough,
And he lay in my dinner, and slept.

After that things got sort of – well – ‘tricky’;
They decided to set a new course.
They went on their way down to Egypt
And part-exchanged me for a horse.

Things gradually went back to normal
And people forgot what they’d seen,
Or maybe they didn’t believe it,
Or saw it as some kind of dream.

But us donkeys we always remember
And as sure as the day follows dawn,
I’ll remember the King of Creation
Rode my back on the day he was born

***********************************

Years went by and I moved to the city
(Well, the legs they were getting so slow);
I ended up working the graveyard,
Shifting bodies about, to and fro.

We’d instructions to pick up this villain —
Some weird, revolutionary guy,
So I pulled the cart down
to the dump outside town,
To the place where they leave them to die.

And that was the next time I saw him;
He was frightened, and lonely, and lost;
But the terrible thing
was that they’d beaten him
And nailed him up to a cross.

Even though it was thirty years later,
I knew it was my little lad.
Oh, I knew it was him
and I couldn’t believe
He’d ever done anything bad.

He died not long after we got there.
His friends took him down from the cross.
The sky had gone dark, it was raining,
As if nature was feeling the loss.

They tried to chuck him in the wagon,
But I didn’t want nothing of that;
I kicked and I yelled till they moved him
And I carried him home on my back.

He was heavier this time than last time,
With the weight of the pain and the years,
But I remembered the stable
And I remembered the tears.

I carried him ever so gently
To this tomb on the edge of the town
And they rolled back the stone,
and they lifted him off,
And silently laid my lad down.

Yes, us donkeys we always remember
And, as sure as the hairs on my hide,
I’ll remember the King of Creation
Rode my back on the day that he died.

**********************************

But that wasn’t the end of the story:
Three days later and just before dawn,
Came this brilliant light,
like there was on that night
Long ago, when the baby was born.

Now I kept my eyes and ears open;
I’d grazed near his grave night and day
And I nearly choked on my carrot
When the guards upped and scarpered away.

The stone had been rolled from the doorway,
And the graveclothes were down on the ground;
And the whole place it felt sort of ‘tingly’,
Full of noise — though there wasn’t a sound.

It was just after this that I saw him;
He was walking about bold as brass,
And he came towards me
and he held out his hand
And he gave me a mouthful of grass.

He laughed as though nothing had happened,
But I knew things had changed, there and then,
‘Cause the garden was singing like choirs,
And creation had started again.

And he reached out and patted my muzzle
And I thought that I’d just burst with pride
When he said to me, ‘Mate,
for old time’s sake,
Once again, would you give me a ride?’

Now us donkeys we always remember
And as sure as the ears on my head,
I’ll remember the King of Creation
Rode my back when he rose from the dead.

© Nick Page 1995