The Oracle


Mark Andrew Holmes

Withdrawn from the crowd

(They do not stir anyway,

In the darkness that precedes dawn),

Ocelotl crouches, perusing an old book,

And Venus shines on his efforts to understand.

Arise, Lady of Filth;

Bring forth desire,

Call forth the purifying flames.

The Yucatán plains stretch into the distance;

The earth is calm, but expectant;

The east shows just a hint of pale blue,

And Coatl lies coiled within the ground.

"The cracks appear, the frame begins to warp;

For years the world has borne an incubus;

She writhes, she has borne it murmuring;

Now she begins to scream.

Come, Lady of Filth!

Come, Lady of Precious Jades!

The Sky-Father has built a temple infested with lizards and vultures

On spongy ground.

Erupt, O Coatl, Lord of Energy!

Bring Xolotl, Lord of Earthquakes, to the world; let him glare down from the evening star!

Send the vultures winging up to Sky-Father whence they came

With the rending asunder of his temple,

Frightened and vomiting forth their carrion."

More light shows in the east;

The earth trembles ever so slightly, once.

The vultures on the temple before Ocelotl caw uneasily, flutter their wings, and then are silent.

A meteor flashes across the sky.

Ocelotl continues, looking up from his book:

"Let a new age begin.

Let Mother Earth vomit forth hordes of lizards.

You do not need to be born again; once is enough.

The Sky-Father is in his dotage; let us turn simultaneously inward and outward.

The wheel turns, turns, and turns some more;

Vultures feed on the Sky-Son's rotting corpse;

His life-spark was love (O rebellious one!); it is gone; he is indeed a corpse.

Why venerate death and the dead?"

The earth shakes; the sky along the eastern horizon is now tangerine; monkeys begin to chatter.

The vultures on the temple move and caw agitatedly.

(There are ten of them.)

Ocelotl continues:

"He lies atop the pyramid, the Sky-Son;

Vultures tear him, but do not consume him.

He is regenerating death, most unnatural.

Yet with strange eons,

And forgotten gods like this,

Who will, even so, claim their place one day—

Death will die,

And so will we,

Yet we will not.

Let us listen to Cipactli at the base of our brain.

We were not born to be rent by the foul beaks

Of the Sky-Father's vultures.

Out of the chaos will eventually come order.

The wheel turns with excruciating slowness,

But it turns,

And soon liberation will come,

After an earthquake that will shatter the earth to its foundations.

See? It has begun already!"

© 2001 by Mark Andrew Holmes.

For endnotes to this poem, click here.

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