"Sacrifice to Vesta," Francisco Goya, WikiArt photo.
“Sacrifice to Vesta,” Francisco Goya, WikiArt photo.

Part 3: Holy Pyramid Temple

Ethereal mountain air, healing springs of
Bona Dea brought faithful from beyond
Etruscan farmlands, shepherds and fisher-
Folk found refuge amongst blessed fonts,
Sipping from sacred streams. For prayers
And offerings, altar or shrine was needed,
Temple for blesséd goddess.

At Bona Dea’s decree, faithful built holy
Temple, not marble columned porticoes,
But hand-placed granite stones taken by
Field clearing, terraced-stepped pyramid
With an altar at its apex, circled by rock-
Lined pools of healing spring waters, fire-
Pits of burnt sacrifices, perpetual flames.

As pilgrims loaded oxen carts, they sang
Hymns, each stone a faith expression,
Gratitude to Bona Dea, first broad terrace-
Laid, steps reaching height of olive trees,
Masons and artisans, months passed in
Labour and in praise, feasts and celebra-
Tions, summer given to winter winds.

Cascading mountain waterfalls, misting
Presence of Bona Dea, maiden Livia’s love
Of Holy Mother, sunlit farming country,
Her duties done, Livia returned home by
Oxen cart, praying pilgrims passed as she
Descended twisting mountain trails, ocean
Countryside distance appearing.

"Spring," Franz Xaver Winterhalter, WikiArt photo.
“Spring,” Franz Xaver Winterhalter, WikiArt photo.

Feverish rantings her family could not fathom,
Livia awakened to sips of medicinal herbs, tea
Of willow bark. Weak from illness spreading
Amongst farm families, she lived when others
Died. Delirium and sweats, Livia recounted her
Dream-pilgrimage, Bona Dea’s painted image,
Her open hands, and healing springs.

Alternate ending…

Lost in Etruscan woodlands, ancient springs
Of Bona Dea are but tearful streams, time-
Crumbled pyramid temple steps, vine covered
Rocky ledges, healing goddess forgotten from
Roman history, Livia and her family reduced
To buried bones. That done in faith and love
Fell from memory to ruin and decay.

Which ending do you prefer? Perhaps the alternate ending
is the final stanza and outcome of “Livia’s Pilgrimage.” 

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