The Lady of Cao by Rose Mary Boehm
The Lady of Cao*
*A female mummy, baptized the Lady of Cao, with complex tattoos on her arms, has been found in a ceremonial burial site in Peru. Archaeologists say is one of the best-ever relics of a civilization that ended more than 1,300 years ago.
The Chicama valley.
A huge burial site scoured
by grave robbers for centuries,
but even the conquistadores
never discovered the sealed
entrance to her grave.
The jampiri. Stalks the grove.
Chants the apu.
Misty curtains rent for the gods.
Stone placed on stone
placed on stone.
Warrior lady. Ceremonial items,
jewelry and weapons, the remains
of a sacrificed teenage girl.
Forensics say the lady died from eclampsia.
Yachaia, my Yachaia. Large eyes,
locking into mine while she drinks.
Knows the shining path we’ll follow.
Hand-in-hand like children.
Her royal lineage gave her the power.
El Brujo gave her the child.
Her belly distended.
It’ll be soon.
She rubs her tattooed arms, shivers,
pulls her elaborate wrap tight.
It’s cold in the palace.
She doesn’t know it,
but her year is 444 AD.
Feels the child move.
This will be her first-born,
probably her only one.
At 25 she’s no longer young.
The pain. I’ll bear it. Heavy, slow.
Winter in my bones, my flesh.
Won’t accept. Yet. The Chill.
The year is 2011 Gregorian.
In Jequetepeque valley an old man,
stooped, grey, wizened,
inhales from a heavy black bowl
in which he prepares his steaming
magic. Pure gold under the black,
it once belonged to the one of his blood.
He’s the last of a noble line.
He’s the last of the jampiris.
Barren women consult him.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS) published in 2011 in the UK, well over 100 of her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a good two dozen US poetry reviews as well as some print anthologies, and Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet. She won third price in in the 2009 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse (US), was semi-finalist in the Naugatuck poetry contest 2012/13 and has been a finalist in several GR contests, winning it in October 2014, a new poetry collection is in the process of publication in the US.
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