The Shaman and the Oracle

The dead’s out-stretched hands greeted me
At the four-cornered summit.

Once through a sky-trough’s bloodied knives,
I lazed at the tiller of my drum; lowered a mask
Shaped from star-bright stones.

Below, as the chosen ones chanted
By a fire where my body lie, I moored
To a cloud’s loam-scented rib.

The soul of a cloaked priestess sat upon a tripod, singing:
Laurel branches held; incense rising
From a rainbow’s navel.

I lolled as my drum’s hull swayed to her rhymes –
But her temple’s columns began to fall!

One of the spirits who serve me
Grasped her soul’s hem
Before it frayed.

I shaped a tripod from a shell’s lungs, columns
From bits of my keel; incense rose
Through a hole I cut in the sky.

Her soul’s songs can still be sung by others,
In their own tongues,
Have they the will to hear.

[Joseph Murphy is a professional editor and writer who lives in Michigan. He has had poetry published or forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Gray Sparrow, Fickle Muses and The Sugar House Review. Murphy is also a poetry editor for an online literary journal, Halfway Down the Stairs.]

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