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Wednesday 5 January 2011

A Peruvian Child Sacrifice

Little boy
I wish I knew your name
I would address you by it
you deserve that dignity.

What was your death
intended to achieve?
Or were you never told?

How did you die?
Your body language speaks to me
but speaks uncertainly.
So are you huddled there for warmth,
or does some spectre,
teeth and claws,
loom over you?

You seem a creature almost alien,
its body coiled into a ball
that might be fungal
or an infant
engulfed by fire
and gone to ground
the way small children do.

I saw a Nazi lampshade once
made from human skin,
it had been seared by fire.
Your skin reminds me of it.

But little boy,
are you as brittle as you look?
A wisp of frozen smoke, perhaps?
And would a finger-touch
then make you disappear
and crumble into dust?
You could be ghost
or haunted corpse.

Fragile, yes
and parchment-like
an origami creature
unfolding in the heat

then crumpled in upon itself.

There lies the irony:
you froze to death.
They left you there,
knowing that you would.

You are a natural mummy,
freeze-dried in windy mountain air.

But little boy
you were important to them, clearly.
Do not forget,
they gave you shells
(worth more than gold)
with which to barter
or use as freebies for the gods;
they dressed you in long, flowing robes,
allowing for your future growth;
and don't forget:
you were preserved
for all eternity!


The Weaver of Grass said...

So very sad Dave yet I feel we cannot judge these early sacrifices can we? At least they thought they were doing right (I hope) unlike those 220 Nazi burials they have found today.

Tabor said...

We are the strangest of the animals on this planet, surely. The imagery is breath-stopping.

Louise said...

A wonderful and moving poem Dave.

Jim Murdoch said...

I enjoyed this one, Dave. Just not sure about ‘freebie’ though. ‘Sweetener’ is more suggestive but both are a bit on the casual side. ‘Blandishment’ on the other hand seems a bit too much the other way. Perhaps simply ‘bribe’? Is the child not the gift though? Or is he more payment in advance in expectation of a good harvest or something? As you say, who knows? Got me thinking anyway.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow. This is so powerful. Healing, too. Thanks for this.

Dave King said...

I am sure that is correct: it makes a big difference if they think they are doing what is right - though there's scope in plenty for a philosophical discussion.

We are indeed, I am sure of that. Thank you for the kind comment.

129 socks
Thank you so much.

Yes, I couldn't find a word I was entirely happy with. I'm thinking inducement at the moment, though that has three syllables and ideally I wanted two. Still, there are ways round that.
Incredibly, little is known about these sacrifices. The one that set me working on this poem is thought to have been a response to several years of atrocious weather, but no one is sure. It's all theory.

Welcome to the blog and my thanks to you for commenting.

Strummed Words said...

Amazing how this picture prompt will bring multiple things to our minds. Well done.