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Short poem

Albert Frank Moritz (1947-)

On the Preserved Body of an Inca Child Frozen to Death as a Sacrifice to the Sun

              1The priests collected your teeth,
              2all your cut hairs from the ground,
              3the parings of your nails,
              4so that, dead, in another world
              5you do not have to go searching far
              6for the parts of your body.
              7And will you there be able to make again
              8from these immature scraps,
              9and from your frozen shell,
            10the head that shaded, mouth that spoke to,
            11hands that played with this silver
            12doll of the goddess, these flocks
            13of small gold cattle? If elsewhere
            14your strong fingers assemble the pieces
            15or if here the empty form
            16of your body, more real than the ice
            17that for centuries treasured up its flesh,
            18walks through us, still the sun’s light
            19which makes us its instruments
            20can’t find you. The sun
            21for whom you were staked in the snow
            22only fills the places empty of you,
            23making us see what is done
            24in his own false name
            25to the poor tongues of his fire.


1] The El Plomo boy, one of the “capa cocha children”: discovered in 1954 on El Plomo mountaintop in Chile, was adorned with jewelry, finely clothed, and equipped with small bags that held his baby teeth and nail clippings. His body now rests in a museum in Chile.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Blackfish Press permissions department.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Between the Root and the Flower (White Rock, BC: Blackfish Press, 1982): 33. PS 8576 .074 B4 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/7/22*1:2004/7/27

Other poems by Albert Frank Moritz