Monday, 19 November 2007

Chinchorro child lament


Alone amongst his father’s children
this baby bears my mother’s face
and gentleness

The look around his wiseling eyes
that smile the echo of her own
She should have lived to see him

And if I scream his name
and hold his small cold body to my breast
he’s gone

as much as she is gone
and as forever I will miss her
in his echoing

Along the shore where every wave
falling at my feet recalls him
back to meet the salt

I try to see the girls the boy
the father to them all
but everywhere this baby

follows where I walk
And when the sea birds run
before the waves

and when the moon
arises out of sunset’s burning
leading points of light

his face his kneading fist
pains at the breast he once devoured
and I weep


Yesterday my brother’s wife took my child
to empty out his living
make him ready

And with her care he’ll be prepared
to last forever as my mother
was made ready

She will take the flesh from round his bones
and from inside his bones
and make him fit

to live forever in the sand
to join my mother and my father
and the babies I have lost

I will see him stiff and still
his flesh made soil and reed
lying straighter than he ever did

My child will wear the blackened face
the sheen of pelican to guard his travelling
into the world beyond his life

We will wrap him gently in the woven reed
where his round eyes will see
and his round mouth will breathe again

and set him gently in the sand
gently in the sand
to live forever

copyright 1997 Charlotte Peters Rock

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