Sarita (An Incan Sacrifice)

Bronzed in the dying sun, on Andes' peak,
Adorned with gold, steps sanguined in the snow,
Urged on by parents, friends and priests, to go
('Thou art the chosen one. Go, child, and seek!');
Brightest and best, with maiden trust so meek,
Never the taint of motherhood to know;
By ochrous poison, or by deadly blow,
Who saw your ending, heard the final shriek? Appalled, one shudders at the ancient vice.
Then, comes a tiny, inner voice, sublime:
'Though my small corpse lie frozen in the ice,
Is not life's flame unquenchable as time?
And every death an equal sacrifice,
Each life a sacred mountain all must climb?'

by Bernard Brown

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