a cold wind whipped between the dunes,
breathing life into swarms of tiny sand
crystals that bit like angry mites.
the wise ones were grateful for their beards.
they had trekked many nights;
fatigue weighed on their feet and on their spirits.
“are we there yet?” complained balthazar, “this is sooo boring.”
“my feet hurt,” said caspar, “this baby king better like my gift.”
“oh sure, no better gift for an infant boy than exotic perfume.”
“really? you make fun of my present? what even is ‘myrrh’?
did you make that up?”
“–brethren!” interjected melchior, “cease your squabble. it matters not
what we bring, it is this journey itself that is our most precious cargo…”
“…but,” he continued, “your gifts are both weird. they’re totally going to love my gold.”
…the next day…
when they finally crested the top of the dune,
they saw only a vast ocean of desert.
the sun stared down, unblinking,
from its high-noon throne, haughty and hot.
“okay,” said balthazar. “which way is west.”
he glanced about, but found no shadows to show him.
“my throat is parched,” said caspar. “i wish that i were a camel.”
“you may as well be,” said balthazar, “the way you smell.”
“well my frankincense smells better than your myrrh,” said caspar.
“does not. my—”
“enough!” said melchior, “look at you, lost in the desert with no water, arguing about who smells worse. and you call yourselves wise ones.” he shook his head. “this way,” he said. he tossed a skin of water at balthazar and moved off.
balthazar drank from the skin, grateful. he looked at caspar.
“you,” he said, and held out the skin, “are a camel.” and he skipped off after melchior.