The Shepherd

Outside of Jerusalem
a shepherd minding a flock
of goats, with a face

brandished and made
of the earth
tells a biblical story

that breathes desert air
and he looks at you
like the goats he herds

on shifting sand
and ancient boulders,
his lips are sunburnt

and his eyes
speak of lingering death
but when you look closer

you catch a glimpse
of something you can never be,
a life made of sand and sun

beyond the walls of Jerusalem
in the echoes of prayers
channeling across the earth’s floor

and you understand
that unlike him, we have learned
only to accept or question God

but in his face, you know
he has never cried,
has never known comfort,

has never doubted his place
among the stars that burn
in a dark silence.

Steven Pelcman is a writer of poetry and short stories and a novelist who has been published in a number of magazines including: The Windsor Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Fourth River, River Oak Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Tulane Review, The Baltimore Review, The Warwick Review, The Greensboro Review, Iodine Journal and many others. He was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize for individual poems and in 2017 for his volume of poetry titled like water to STONE (Adelaide Books), and an additional Pushcart Prize nomination for an individual poem by Evening Street Press in 2020. Steven has spent the last twenty-three years residing in Germany, where he teaches in academia and is a language communications trainer and consultant.

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