Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A letter from Mr Caspar

(With reference to Matthew 2: 1-18)

If the man I have instructed to follow you is armed,
If I have ordered him to put a bullet through your brain
Should you derelict your duty,
Do not be offended; consider it a mark
Of the gravity of your charge,
That you will have in your hands lives,
That you will be expected to deal deaths.
You must protect my interests,
Work towards the failure
Of these colleagues who came with me to the West,
Who left behind representatives like yourself
(Be polite to these men; respect them as your equals;
Effect their elimination if at all you can).
Born a king on Bethlehem plain,
Gold I bring to crown him again.
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign.
You must watch the stars,
Maintain the accuracy of the charts I have left you;
Draw our nation’s horoscope
In the blood you will shed with your hands
While my hands are absent.
I draw the horoscope of the planet;
I follow the path of the comet.
And I shall be there to see where it rests
Or where it may vanish, forever.
Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense brings a deity nigh:
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.
Already I have seen
A senator from that great imperial power stand before the cameras
And issue stern denials that the phenomenon shall amount to anything.
I have seen a crew of pirates kill their engines, drop anchor,
Lay down their AK47s, remove their bandanas,
Wipe hands on bloodstained singlets, look up.
I saw a Coalition sergeant stop and sit on a pockmarked wall
Beside a boy he might have shot as an insurgent;
Both watched the light, wondered what force launched that attack.
I spoke with a nomadic herdsman of the region,
A filthy illiterate who through the translator
Babbled about contact with beings from another world.
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
The others expected
The child to be resident
In the presidential palace
And while we met the Coalition’s petty, puppet dictator
And frightened him with tales of usurping infants
(What can he do? Really, what can he do?)
I wonder, privately, if the child will not be poor
Since there are so many more of them to be chosen.
I dreamed last night of a refugee mother
In filthy blue sweatpants donated by an aid agency, her
Round dark eyes accusing me, taking it in as
I knelt in my charcoal grey tailored suit, in my silk tie
That alone cost more than her leathery husband will ever earn,
Knelt before the child whose face in my dream I could not see,
And to whom I offered in dreaming what I will offer soon in waking:
A Krugerrand,
A box of incense,
A jar of ointment used for embalming the dead.

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