Excerpts >Summer 2006

Peter Pereira

Sky Burial

---Tibetan funeral ritual

He unwraps the corpse,
arranges the body upon the altar rock.

Saffron-robed monks begin to chant.
The burial master lights the sandalwood incense,
claps his hands three times,

calls Shey, shey! (Eat, eat!)
to the sacred vultures,
waiting among the pines.

Oh, to be released
to the sky this way.
Bones picked clean.

Not dust into dust,
but flesh into flesh.

The Young Priest

Your years at Immaculata could never
have prepared you for this
small a parish, so far from heaven.

What agony to stand before them,
robed in purple, holding the tin chalice
amid its hosanna of ?ies.

Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins . . .

Lamb of God, who takes . . .
grant us peace.

The village boy spreads open the book
and you touch it with your lips,
trying to forget where your mouth
has been, what forbidden
creases it has tasted.

(Remember: You are only a man,)

This is my body.

(it was only a moment)

This is my blood.

(of bliss.)

You answer each tongue
with a pallid host.

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