Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Here is a gift to this blog from one of the inhabitants of Trinity Kirksville--as you know, donkeys are highly appreciated on this blog and any good donkey literature will be considered for posting. The author only asks that you attribute her if you pass this around and please do not use for monetary gain. In other words, be a good "copyright citizen".

The Foal

The old donkey's nostrils flared at the smell coming from the little wisps of steam emanating from the pile of rags in the barn. That smell was no stranger to her--the odor of cooling blood from a placenta, thrown into the rags for disposal. This odor, familiar yet comforting, was one she knew that lingered in the barn after the birth of her own foals--the smell of new life, mixed with old, congealing blood. As her nose bumped the rag pile, she recalled her own babies, who had long been sold as soon as they were old enough to wean. Babies now long grown. Babies that, as adults, she would not recognize except for their smells. She would never forget their smells, even though many years had passed.

Her eyes scanned the man and the woman, these sleeping invaders, in her barn. She could see another tiny focus of steam in the cold night air, also arising from a rag bundle held by the woman. Slowly she inched to the steam, quietly, so as not to awaken the couple, again the nostrils flaring, those same smells of drying blood and mucus wafting into her nasal passages. As her nose closed the gap, she could see that curled in this bundle was a human foal. She could smell the drying amniotic fluid in his hair. She smelled all the aromas that her foals had, and the aromas of the mother of this foal, who very slowly opened a sleepy eye, yet did not shoo the donkey away. She was content to let the donkey nuzzle this tiny pink foal. The mother's eye closed again.

The donkey's velveteen nose ever so gently stroked the human foal, and she took in all the smells, the steam from the bundle mixing with the steam from the donkey's exhaled breath. Something was different about this foal. Not just the human smells, but there were other smells different from those of humans. Her ears twitched as she smelled spring flowers, gentle breezes. She felt a heat upon her nose like warm sunshine. The foal opened his eyes—just a little—gurgled, sighed, then fell back asleep. This foal was different than other human foals, but the donkey did not know why.

Suddenly, in the background another smell gripped her--a very faint but also familiar and far less comforting smell. She detected the tiniest bit of the stench of death. She cocked her ears in confusion. This foal was very much alive, but in the background was a lingering overtone--the dying smell of a carcass--the wet rusty smell of blood. Although it was only the faintest of smells, it filled her nostrils in a way that frightened her, and she backed away from the foal and made her way to the open door that led into the corral. She wanted to run from the dying smell but could not. She wanted so badly to bolt, to kick out, to bray uncontrollably, but for some reason she did not.

She turned from the sleeping people and looked outside, and at that moment, her gaze met the star. She had never seen one like it, and she had traveled many miles over the years in darkness, with only the stars to guide her and her master. This star filled the sky in a way she had never seen, its light falling upon her back like rivets of heat in the summer sun. As the light from this star mixed with the hair of her coat, she felt a warmth that, with each breath she took, slowly removed the lingering aroma of death from her nostrils, and filled them with yet more aromas. She could smell the sustaining smell of rich green grass, she could smell pungent sage, aromatic exotic herbs--all the things that filled her belly with contentment--and the death odor abated.

She turned so that one eye met the star, and the other met the tiny sleeping human foal. She had no idea why this foal was different. But she knew she would never forget the smell of this foal, any more than she could ever forget the smells of her own babies. She was only an old donkey, but she knew this foal was different.

©Maria L. Evans


I have just added this as one of the readings at our Nine Lessons and Carols service on 23rd. December. There will be no payment but I will cite the legendary Maria L. Evans on the service sheet.

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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