United States, (contemporary)
- When the villagers stake out a hundred pigs
- and two men wade in with clubs,
- watch how they float, cold as light out of heaven,
- above the scene. When the pigs scream
- and buckle with their skulls caved in,
- remember that not one thing in this world
- will be spared. Not one leaf. Not one
- hair on a child’s head. See the women
- hauling rocks to the fire-pits,
- the boys kneeling to collect blood
- in banana leaves, and think of St. Peter’s
- vision: cloven-hoofed creatures descending
- on a sheet, the sky saying “Take, eat.”
- Learn to sit in the smoke with hunger sated
- as children play with bladders they’ve inflated
- like balloons. Learn a new language
- for fellowship, and when you walk home
- through the fields see if you can translate
- the gloam-wrapped mountain’s whisper
- as Come. Then, if there is a place
- prepared for the saints, you will know
- which way to turn at the crossroads.
- You will not trouble the angel at the garden
- gate for a way past her sword. You will
- not remember what blood washed you clean.
Poetry. Vol. CLXXIX, No. 6, March 2002.
About the Poet
Aaron Baker, US poet, spent his childhood in a remote part of the Chimbu Highlands in Papua, New Guinea, where his parents were missionaries.
He is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He holds a B.A. from Central Washington University and was a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, which granted him an M.F.A. Baker’s work has been published in the Potomac Review and the Blue Moon Review. [DES-6/03]