Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Tower of Silence" by James Frederick William Rowe

Tower of Silence
James Frederick William Rowe

Scavenger,
Pluck the meat
With your gore-fleckt beak
Strip the flesh
Strip by strip
And make a feast 
Of my innards
I have need of the denudation
Of my bones
For only when my skeleton
Is in sight of the sun
Shall my soul be free to soar
Then the heights which you fly
With fingered wings outstretched as if
To grasp the winds 
Shall seem as mere hoverings
Compared to my empyrean heights
How else am I to reach heaven
If not by the winged climb
Of my soul? 

Poet’s Notes:  Tower of Silence is my take on the Zoroastrian practice of sky burial, where the dead are placed atop towers that their flesh might be stripped by scavengers. After reading a particularly fascinating article about the vulture in National Geographic, I've taken a certain liking of this creature and, paired to my pre-existing interest in Zoroastrianism, I thought to write something that spoke of them in a positive light.

I was inspired by the fact that the Parsi actually have to keep vultures on hand in order to denude the bones properly, given the vast decline in the number of vultures owing to environmental degradation and other measures. If they don't keep the birds on hand, the bodies can take weeks upon weeks to be stripped bare, when previously they'd be nothing but a skeleton in a matter of hours or a day.

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