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The Hoosier Poems

Mad Mercedes at the Inquisition [  Pansy  ]

By Michael L. Smith

This poem is adapted from the Peruvian myth of Inkarrí and dedicated to the work and memory of the Peruvian anthropologist and novelist Jose Maria Arguedas. No Peruvian writer has captured the bittersweet world of the mestizo, trapped between Indian serfs and white masters, as well as he did. More than 50 versions of the Inkarrí myth were collected in different parts of Peru in last 40 years. Its essence is that the Inka, supposedly Atahualpa or Tupac Amaru, will rise from the grave and rescue his people.

This poem takes one of the legend versions of Inkarrí's return and turns it into a love poem and a lament for the departed lover.

before he touched my softness and reason
[ Clear dot  ]heaven and earth were a perverse couple
[ Clear dot  ]mothers cursed their children like locusts
[ Clear dot  ]lovers lost the nights speculating on their sins

he was the offspring of a violent union
between a savage woman and the cunning sun

cosmos was staircase to his door
confining winds within his mouth
[ Clear dot  ]he pushed them
past my lips with a burst
[ Clear dot  ]while I stuttered
his name
[ Clear dot  ]Inkarri
[ Clear dot  ]time was mastered
by tying the sun to a mountain
[ Clear dot  ]and from the peak
he's launch his golden staff and where it embedded
he edified
[ Clear dot  ]oh the temples and cities we built!

sacred dominion enveloped by the spanish king
mercenaries and assassins
[ Clear dot  ]Inkarri martyred
[ Clear dot  ]separated from me
[ Clear dot  ]conquistadors consumed
the forests with fire and cathedral
[ Clear dot  ]only now
do the eucalyptus grow like the silver hairs on his body

the fox from down under tells me
[ Clear dot  ]his body is harbored deep in the earth
the fox from the upper world tells me
[ Clear dot  ]his head still living is imprisoned in the bell tower

in the soil i feel the intimacy of his body
a tremoring urge grasping my ankles
reaching up toward my thighs
[ Clear dot  ]i tear my clothes
and press my body naked to the earth
his joy cutting me in the edge of every rock
[ Clear dot  ]give me the tenderness of thorns
[ Clear dot  ]the aroma of dung
[ Clear dot  ]the rasp of gravel against my breasts
a pigeon from the bell tower lights on my ecstasy

but they would prevent all this
scrubbing passion from my skin like filth
leaching intimacy like a festered bruise
tearing even memory from me
because restoration springs from the loins

now i sit night and day by my looms
singing lullabies and colors
[ Clear dot  ]i weave
the mantel and robes made from the finest wool
of the vicuna of the inaccessible ranges
i fell the belly flower grow larger
and now i must go to Cusco