Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Adoratiion of the Magi (1481)
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427)
Adoratiion of the Magi (1423)
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Adoratiion of the Magi (1504)
Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Gold, Myrrh, Frankincense

Gold, myrrh, frankincense— gifts Three Magi brought
to the Christ Child guided by the Bethlehem Star.
Christmas Day 1980— I'm watching NBC News

with Tom Brokaw giving prices of gold hitting
all-time high $850/oz in January, now $600/oz,
myrrh is at $78/oz & frankincense at $55/oz.

I'm more interested in the Magi's gifts
and look up Webster's to learn that myrrh
is a perfume and frankincense, an incense.

Gold, myrrh, frankincense— solid, liquid, vapor
or ice, water, steam— and Christ Child is H2O—
the essence of those gifts from the Three Magi.

Suddenly an epiphany— if the Three Kings
realized this, they'd prostrate immediately
to baby Jesus with crowns off their heads.

Searching through my shoeboxes of art postcards
bought from European museums, I found a dozen
cards of paintings on Adoration of the Magi.

Only two had all three kings with their crowns off—
my favorites, Leonardo da Vinci & Albrecht Dürer—
They knew! They knew! as tears rolled down my face.

Most artists showed the kings with their crowns on
but great masters knew Christ was the King of kings
such as Bosch, Botticelli, and Hans Memling.

Three decades have passed since that epiphany—
but the insight and illumined light of that day
still burns brightly and is aflame in my heart.

              Peter Y. Chou
              Mountain View, 2-2-2015