[By Jo Walton; from her livejournal, December 20, 2005. Reprinted by permission.]
If we allow that any animals were present at the Incarnation
It seems unduly parochial to privilege our familiars.
If there was an ox, an ass, a camel,
Surely we must also grant other culture’s farmyard beasts;
Yaks, waterbuffalos, llamas.
More likely all the animals knew and came.
Making their way across unimaginable distances,
Swimming the oceans, climbing the mountains:
Penguins and polar bears from the distant arctics,
Tigers from India, zebras from Africa,
And all the way from China,
Bending over the manger in bewildered delight,
A small group of enthusiastic pandas.
Crowding into the stable, clustering together
Canonical lamb and unlikely lion, mouse beside elephant, robin, lizard, scorpion,
And everywhere, moving among them, angels.
[As a footnote, Jo noted that “Our Nativity scene also includes such oddities as two Marys and Josephs, one of the wise men being Buddha—and I think the onus is on you to prove he wasn’t among them—the presence of Cthulhu among the angels, a t-rex and rather a lot of dragons. The dragons and the dinosaur are allegorical.”]