Poetry / November 2009 (Issue 9)


Burying the First Emperor of China

by Bob Bradshaw

We stand in a mausoleum as long
as a valley. There are no crickets
or birds.

Carriages wait to be hitched
to horses.

We are told that soon
we, the emperor's concubines,
will be escorted
back to the palace.

But look! The doors are closing!

Suddenly terra cotta soldiers
are pushed to the ground.
Are they going to bury us all in the tomb?

Everywhere there is the explosion
of shattered pots.

Like horses
when lightning strikes the center
of a corral, a wild circling

of the perimeter begins. People
are running into each other,
knocking each other over.

Could my parents have foreseen my end
as I played with my siblings?

What oracle's strewn bones
will tell them now of my passing?

I hide behind a clay soldier,
his stare, like my hopes,

empty.

 
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