Not Heron, nor the hundred men beside
Took notice of the missing enemies,
For each had swore an oath to there reside
And bear the burden of their chief’s unease.
So, sweeping in abreast with expertise
Their blades to drag against the grain of heads,
To hack in pieces, ceaseless to appease
Their doubled edges, thirsts to quench. Unwed
Their minds with knowledge of their households’ coming dread.
A thousand pouring in, like water, sank
Into the valley, sweeping reach of flow,
A dam to hold back wrath of gouging flanks
Had burst in tears by volume’s crushing throe,
And every place submerged now by its woe.
But village tents and houses creaked and whipped,
Dismantling intruders’ forward row
Like water filling basin, settling stiff–
To quiet emptiness of ghostly soundless drift
For Ibis, Heron’s wife, no fool or goon,
The women and the children safe from pain
And safe from earthly peril. Men would soon
Discover, rotten, all in village slain.
Too soon, they did, and, sickly, grumbled, “Vain!
Tell, who has beaten us and stolen bread,
Upon the hungry table, glory’s gain
Denied, the mold for tired boots to tread–
For how can we avenge ourselves upon the dead?”
Perhaps the humans, never culture learned,
And never thinking thoughts more than their own,
For terrifying laughing spit and burned
On every side, the origin unknown
But boding worst. The tribe for sure had moaned
And paid their debts prior in blood in full.
Yet surely they had left alive this crone,
An antiquated idiot or fool
With height of lunacy instilled as unseen ghoul!
With nothing there to gain, the thousand men
Turned swift at orders, “Back to recompense,
And take a double share of glory’s win.”
Begrudgingly, the fighting men filed hence
By rank and row. The laughing ever tense
To clang against the scowls and frowns bewitched,
To unseat men from reason with the wince
Obtained at cresting of the sharpest pitch–
When some decided they must slay this bloody witch!