The Donkey’s Tale by Jane Brooker
There is a poem written about me. Which is strange when you think about it. It is not what you would expect. For I have no voice, I cannot speak. Even when I make a sound, others make fun of me.
Consider this: I am no-one of any importance. I am just a donkey; an ass in fact. I am just a beast of burden. But on that special day, I walked as proud and sure footed as any thoroughbred.
When the man came and asked for a colt and a donkey my master didn’t hesitate. He said yes straight away. I stood and waited as I always did. I assumed I would be used to carry the baggage. That’s what I usually did. That’s what an ass is for. Why would this time be any different? The man led me away with the colt beside me. It was no big deal. We were used to each other, the colt and me. The colt would be the one who would be ridden. He knew just as I knew, that I would be laden with the baggage.
So off we went. It would be just another day, like any other. I never thought of what might lay ahead. Why would I? Why would this time be any different? I already knew what I would be doing, how hard I would have to work. Mine was a hard life, always working, carrying loads to heavy for any animal to bear, but that’s what I did. So you can guess my surprise when cloaks were laid on my back. I wondered what it was all about. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. The look of astonishment on the colt’s face was all that I felt. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Coats on a donkey? But they lay the coats on me as well as him nonetheless.
I wondered what would come next. So far that day no-one had spoken a harsh word to me. I had not been beaten with a stick, but treated with honour. Oh yes, I knew what an honour it was to have a cloak laid on my back. That was reserved for the horses who carried kings. But I was a donkey. How could I possibly be used for a king?
And then I was brought before the stranger who would ride me. I could hardly believe what was happening. He patted my head and then he sat astride me. Well, I felt so proud. For once I didn’t balk at what I was being demanded to do. I walked forwards, head held high with the colt beside me.
And so we walked onwards to the city. Jerusalem.
I knew it would be busy. It was the time of year when there were always lots of people about. The road was full of visitors to the city. Dust was kicked up into the air by all the coming and going of the travellers on the road. What I couldn’t know, what I could never have anticipated was the way the crowds gathered around us. All the attention was on the man who was riding me. I could hear them shouting over and over ‘Hosanna’. What did it all mean?
Everyone seemed to be so excited. Then the people began to lay palms on the road before me as I walked. I couldn’t believe it. This was something I could never have expected to happen to me, a humble donkey. Carrying a king? What else could this man be? A cloak on my back, palms before my feet and the people crying out with shouts of praise. And oh, I was so proud. So very proud. I held my head high. I strutted as I walked. This was my moment. The crowning glory of my life. Something I would remember always. A memory I would cherish.
You see, us donkeys were the butts of all the jokes. Not just by men, but by the horses too; our cousins who looked down on us in that so superior way. But it wasn’t the colt who carried the king that day, it was me. And so we walked proudly down the road into the city of Jerusalem.
There was another parade that day. I heard about it afterwards. The governor was on the other side of the city, parading on his warhorse with his legions of soldiers, riding a magnificent warhorse. A thoroughbred, muscles rippling with power, his coat sleek and glossy, magnificent and glorious to see. He was accustomed to the attention. He was bred for the use of kings and the like. Not like me, a donkey. Had the colt been beside him, he would have been proud. But to walk beside me, no he felt humiliated, jealous. My, how cross the colt was. Yet despite all the riches this governor displayed, despite his magnificent warhorse, all his power, no one cheered him. The crowds didn’t gather to see him. No, they came to see the king who had come to claim his kingdom, riding a donkey. They came to see the man I carried on my back.
But I was elated. I felt proud for my entire race. I knew this moment was unique, it was esxtraordinary, special. It would be remembered for years to come. I could not know why I had been chosen, but only that I had. This man was a king and he had chosen me to ride on into Jerusalem. And I was overjoyed as the people cheered this man and called after him. ‘Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Yes this king was blessed and I felt the benison of the blessing too.
Somehow, I knew that this king didn’t need to demonstrate his power. He didn’t need to boast of who he was or what he could do. Power surrounded him like a mantle wrapped around his shoulder. It felt like you just had to reach and touch him to feel that power. Even I, a simple donkey, could sense his power. And proud as I was, I trembled as I walked into the city. I wondered where would this lead? I saw as we entered the city gates the looks on the faces of the priests and the other men standing beside them. No joy there at the coming of the king. You could see it in their faces. Haughty and proud. Looking down on the rabble surrounding us. And I asked myself then as I walked through the city gates ‘What would happen when this man claimed his kingdom? Would they oppose him?’ I could not know. How could I? But I feared for this man who challenged those priests. He had power but would it be enough against those men? Would it keep him safe?
Later I heard he died. Crucified the colt told me later. But I still remember that hour of glory when we walked in Jerusalem. ‘Hosanna in the highest.’
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