Utu Man (7) My uncle's dog

Дата: 25-06-2008 | 03:12:40

When my uncle took
Nergal's scalded hand,
my brothers brought his dog
to go with the dead.

My mother squeezed a cloth
above a slice of meat,
and brushed it
past the dog's nose,
but he wouldn't eat.

My brothers spread apart
the dog's front paws,
and he fell hard
beneath my uncle's corpse.

They thrust a bronze blade
between the dog's jaws,
which squeaked and unclenched
into a blithe grimace.

I noticed plump rose gums,
with floating black spots
and dark-yellow rims
of his clear curving teeth.

On the underside of his tongue
a lonely blue vein
aimlessly wound among
the ruby hillocks
on a ruby plain.

When a few greenish drops
slipped into his mouth,
he stopped whining
and stared with the liquid lapis
of his halted eyes
into the black ceiling…

"Utu, don't you cry now, -
my eldest brother said, -
uncle has a long way to go
into the den of the dead.

He cannot walk alone,
because by the roadside
demons stand and wait,
and each wears a crown
with as many plumes in it
as the souls
it caught and tore apart
with its jagged teeth.

If uncle has a dog,
the fiends will freeze
and turn into cypresses
glimpsing through the fog."

I glanced at the beast
lying on the floor,
at his heaving chest,
at the silver glow
of froth streaking along
a pale groove in his tongue,
and I went out to rest,
while a voice in me sung:

"Uncle never hurt
anyone in his time,
he would have reached
safely his new home,

there was no black stain in him,
where the demons
would sink their teeth,
he was a timeless arrow
that couldn't miss.

You were put down,
and I did not save you,
now there is a spot
on my soul, too,
dog-shaped, and my light
cannot fly through.

This repugnant mark
the demons will recognise,
searching for any dark
patch with their turbid eyes."

I wept wretchedly
in my uncle's room,
while his dog was licking me
with the tongue, still warm.

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