Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Aqlla

So you sing to me again
That hollow, interminable lament
Which tears me from my sleep
To shackle me with dreams.
You always find new tricks to bring me home —
This stubbornly devoted concubine
Who finds privilege in the humble shadow
Of your fiercely glacial air,
And lingers with surrendered reverence
Around your volatile, smoldering depths.
Yes, I recognize your invocation;
It’s a breath,
A regal salutation,
And a kiss.

But tell me, love —
Do you remember our game?
Do you remember
How I once melted in your embrace?
How completely I surrendered to the searing pain?
How obediently I waited
As the flames of passion threatened to destroy me?
How I believed that I would suffocate
Before you let me go?

Do you remember
How I branded myself,
Playing with fire
To cauterize your wounds?

I will return
With a torch
To clear the shadows of your long, tormented night.

Just, please —
Don’t burn me now.

 

*A mentor told me years ago that she thought I was an aqlla in another life.  Kind of a random thing to say, but I resurrect the idea here.  This title, from Quechua, is a play on numerous levels of meaning.  I’ll break some of them down, should you be curious:

Aqllana/Aqllay = to select/choose — This poem was inspired by an opportunity and the need to make a decison.

Aqlla = (lit.) chosen one

Aqlla = (historically) a bride of the sun.  The aqllacuna (pl.) were taken from their homes, having been singled out (hence “aqlla”) for a life of political and spiritual service to the Inca Empire.  This decision, externally imposed, was based on physical appearance, and one could not refuse to be an aqlla.  Furthermore, as the state appropriated an aqlla’s sexuality, she lived under perpetual surveillance.  Owned by the empire, she could be given as a concubine — or sacrificed — for the greater glory of the state and the higher interests of the people.  Stakes were high; an aqlla was not free, and “transgressions” of the flesh, as well as any sign of disrespect toward the men she was ordered to serve (service), were punishable by death.

In this poem, I refer to fire not only for its simultaneously destructive and purifying effects, but also because tending to a hallowed fire was one of an aqlla’s sacred responsibilities.

A little pre-Columbian trivia for you  😉

October 7, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anachronism

Rome was already dead.

It was her ghost which emerged from the barbarian raids
To witness the moment the Tawantinsuyo awoke to its own splendor
Just moments before discovering that the seeds of its destiny
Had always been germinating there among those Seven Hills.

And as the mountain kingdom lay bleeding,
With one final, desperate gasp before her altar,
A deathbed convert, but all too tragically late,
The prostrate Inca warrior poured his libation of virgin tears
Over the marble belly of Venus–
Whose alabaster robes had buried
The quena
That opened those last decisive battles on the páramo–
And an empire built on granite
Fell to dust at the feet of a fading Classical apparition.

When the most bitter of Andean chills
Mangled the Mediterranean olives on their branch,
Two great empires
Reigning out of time

Clashed in anguish.  Fused.
And fell
Right there

On our bed.


* ~ Ñoqa Chuquiagomarkamanta Pichopaq ~
Quena =
type of Andean flute, held vertically at the lips

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment