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This poem is taken from PN Review 90, Volume 19 Number 4, March - April 1993.

- for Sujata Bhatt What was Left Over Eleanor Wilner


As you said, Sujata, it was not
mentioned, was kept out
of the story, out of the elaborate ritual
of parting and redemption, the gorgeous
sanction of sacrifice - that plunge
into the heart of fire, the drugged victim
or the fear-crazed hero, the scattered
entrails of power, of belief -
but there, you described it, how the elephants
gather, how they circle, and see it; how they
see it and mourn: the torn carcass
with the head taken for the trophy room
of the gods; the stumps where a tusk
or a forest once grew;
                               the priest wiping clean
the blood of a lean season from the ritual

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