All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

Kriophoros

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There is sickness in the air:
a pollution of the spirit,
hanging over the cities,
hanging over the pastures where the herds graze,
hanging even over the temples where offerings are brought.
Do not mistake me for that other One;
Lambs are light, easy to carry,
for all they may kick and bleat
or shit down your shoulder.
Shepherds may revere me, but I am no shepherd;
The burden I carry is no lamb newborn
or shaggy ewe, udders swollen with Spring’s milk.
No, what I carry is the flock’s guardian
— not the shepherd, no beardless boy with bark-stripped staff —
but the flock’s true king,
crowned heavy with horns,
fire in his eyes at the merest whiff of wolf or bear;
fierce his shout and fierce the thundering beat of his heart,
fiercer still the courage he shows as he charges those
who would do the ewes or lambs harm.
This is why he makes the perfect sacrifice;
this is why I carry him, heavy and struggling,
across my shoulders, around the city walls,
high enough for all to see —
the shepherds in their fields
and the priests in the temples,
the children playing in the streets
and the merchants in the city square.
He is no mewling babe, easily controlled;
it takes determination to hold him,
and the certainty that bringing the blade to his throat
to spill his blood and then lower meat and fat and fur to the fire
will bring on the favor of those who sit so high above
and send that sweet smoke unto them.
After you have washed yourself with water
of sea salt and bay leaf smoke,
after I have borne the ram to the place of sacrifice,
after all the proper rites been conducted,
then — and only then — has that spirit-sickness lifted,
has the miasma been purged,
and then and only then will the herd rest safe once more.

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One thought on “Kriophoros

  1. Very powerful piece, Jennifer! I really like it.

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