"Way to the Temple," Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1882, WikiArt photo.
“Way to the Temple,” Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1882, WikiArt photo.

Fountain passersby made fleeting wishes,
Coins tossed, novelty with friends, watching
Copper, silver drifting sunlit depths. Yet to
Kasia, marble fount, round and deep, was
Place of prayer, washing blood from hands,
Red stains imagined on young hands and
Wrists, visions of animal sacrifice, beating
Hearts, listless eyes, impressions scarring
Mind and soul, entrails read by holy priests.

Wresting from parents’ grip, Kasia ran from
Temple steps, releasing purified lambs and
Pigs destined for ceremonial knife, bowls of
Coins thrown to ground. With lamb in arms,
She ran to fountain, squirming yearling bathed,
Herself in cleansing laves. Relieving sins of
Sacrifice, Kasia cried aloud, blaming gods and
Priests, no hymns or prayers forgiving sins
Against animals raised for sacrificial rites.

Chorus:
Dismissed by priests as hysterical, newly
Bleeding adolescent girl, Kasia felt visceral
Fear imparted by flesh-cleaving butcher’s
Knife, for she alone bore woman’s curse,
Blood-pulsing death of animals upon her
Maiden lap. No catharsis from burnt offerings,
Pungent smoke rising to thin air. Lo! Kasia
Challenged ancient bonds of gods, servitude
Of man, notions she refashioned and reframed.

“Do gods lust after blood?” she asked priests,
“Like men on battlefields, wielding sword and
Spear, entrails spilled for naught?” Defiance
Rose like smoke to immortal gods, for Kasia
Believed men and gods were nearly equal, each
Rulers of their own domain, where men and
Animals shared face and heart, bound as earthly
Brethren. Indeed, first fruits were adequate as
Symbolic offerings for fertile fields and beasts.

"Soul Carried to Heaven," William-Adolphe Bouguereau, circa 1878, WikiArt photo.
“Soul Carried to Heaven,” William-Adolphe Bouguereau, circa 1878, WikiArt photo.

Whether wind or thunder, clouds descended
Over Kasia as she ridiculed gods and priests
At temple doors. Lo! Lightning struck, dead
Child smoldering, hair ablaze, entrails spilled
On marble steps, condemnation of the gods.
Deific sovereignty and fall destined in far-
Seeing skies, too soon Kasia’s truth revealed,
Temples toppled in ruins, but not before
Scorching death, Kasia, sacrificial lamb.

An early morning writing effort, I did not like direction
of this poem; however, I followed young Kasia’s journey.
She may poetically appear one more time and dissolve
into æther. This is same Kasia as in the “Mirror” poem.

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