The Five

Five appeared atop the hill
cubes with skin
like glistening white fish
seen in shallow waters
bodies rippling in dappled light
through the boughs of the holy trees
that grew there high
south of the city
in each of the five mysteries
was a blackened archway
of such darkness
sight skittered across
unable to obtain purchase
like children’s hands
upon the greased piglet
that opens celebratory
breeding days in spring
into one such arched door
a slave was sent
passing into pitch
and the entrance
grew over
a thin membrane
quickly thickening
and then soon no more
evidence of its existence remained
into another a warrior went
armed and armored
into another a warrior went
empty-handed and skyclad
into the fourth
a virgin woman
new to her blood
and lastly an elder
wise, mother of nine
grandmother of thirty-two
great grandmother of a hundred twenty
to over five hundred
in she went and as the others
no egress
no attacks could breach
no scar upon it or any
neither crease nor dimple
simply smooth silvery flesh
and seasons passed
and the haunted cells remained
unweathered, unchanging, calm
vines grew not up their sides
birds shit not upon them
hounds did not dare piss
then one day
six moons after
the great comets third run
before the dawn
they did vanish
and to the city gates
which in their days did not exist
came the slave, the warriors,
the virgin and the matron
and the city opened to them
it opened to the legends
to the ghosts, the gods
who they all knew
and to whom
for so long
they fervently prayed
never straying
in their devotion
their ultimate belief
that one day
they would return
to rule
and that is just what they did
each of the five
with his and her own rules
own laws, own methods and customs
own favors and miracles
and thus divided
they turned to conquest
each in their own direction
the religion of the Slave
was devout obedience
of the Armed Warrior
of the Virgin
self-denial and austerity
of the Naked Warrior
of the Matron
fruitful multiplication
these became the five ways of the city
became the five ways of the world
an uneasy wary acceptance
existed between the five
an unspoken truce
to accept their differences
and live with them
but with no more to conquer
the world run out
they turned to each other
and questioned
the value of their peace
of their cooperative alliance
and all agreed on one last thing
to end it


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