Sacrifice

By Sommer, Jason | Tikkun, November/December 2003 | Go to article overview

Sacrifice


Sommer, Jason, Tikkun


Baghdad c. 1995

Here is fire and wood for sacrifice, said Isaac, but where is the lamb... ?

The newscaster shows without much commentary

beyond that it was smuggled the video

of the dance the men of the desert cult perform

before the dictator and his family.

As absolute as any have ever been,

he sits in a standard wing chair in the palace,

less like a king, though, than a desert god

made visible as graven image, impassive

the obsidian-eyed attentiveness revealed

in the almost averted gaze of the camera

as it wobbles after the dancers, passing him

and over patterns on a wall suggesting

calligraphy, as in the style of the region.

Easy to think the danee was made for him,

but he must have summoned them already aware

of the usual range of their improvisations

to that ancient city near the original places.

In fact the dance is older than the city

and ugly, the steps fierce but perfunctory,

done to keep the rhythm going of music

we cannot hear, that has not been recorded,

to which they seem to imitate, preempt

the famous cruelty: pierce themselves with daggers

and stakes though fleshy parts of their upper arms,

and onto a spot just above the hip

one shuffling man applies a pistol barrel,

and spins out of the frame with the jolt of the discharge. …

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