Saturday, January 29, 2022

Karkom's Burning

You can take such evidence
As you can recall reading,
Here or there, remembering

Your memory’s fallible
And you’re no expert scholar,
And then build your own version

Of the story of the God,
And why not? You may know more
About it than the prophets,

For whom it only glimmered,
A sheer possibility.
Start off, Here’s how it began. . . .

There was a flint-knapping tribe,
A desert people in tents,
Semi-nomadic but tied

To their sacred mountain site
Of old cultic rituals
And rock art, source of their flint.

A god lived in the mountain
Called, The God of the Mountain,
El Shaddai. As the tribe grew,

And the more settled peoples
Around them grew, and conflicts
Occurred, the fine flints only

Became more valuable,
Trade goods, a defensible
And highly localized hoard.

There were gods everywhere, but
The tent people still attached
Themselves to their mountain god,

So later, as they warred with
And sometimes invaded lands
Suited to agriculture,

They borrowed habits and cults,
Adopted writing for trade
And for preserving stories,

But remained identified
In their own minds as the tribes
Of their warring mountain god,

Who of ancient days had shone
At winter solstice, a glow
That cast a halo of fire

From the side of Mt. Shaddai
Out of the mouth of a cave up high,
The burning bush of Sinai.

They were miners by habit.
They mastered the copper veins
As they had mastered the flint.

They occupied the ancient
Fertile vineyard valley lands,
And eventually their kings

Moved the center of their cult
To the capital to keep
Control of taxes and priests.

A time would come, their kingdom
Was overrun by empire,
And the people forcibly

Relocated from their homes
As resident aliens
In the heart of that empire.

By the time they were restored,
Being El Shaddai’s people
Was tangled with borrowed myths,

But it bound them. They rebuilt
Their cultic Temple, and when
It was destroyed once again

By a new occupying empire,
And they were scattered again,
The myths were all they had left.

It’s those myths that bring them now,
This curious confusion
Of the biological

And cultural lineage
Of those tent-dwelling knappers
Of the ancient mountain’s flint,

Since some people still believe
Those myths, and others are just
Euhemerists, come to see

The cave disgorge its halo
From the side of the mountain
That once was the home of God,

Who visited His people
While burning to speak to them.
And if most of this is wrong,

So what? It’s story. It binds.
It's to hold thoughts together
Until stronger thoughts arrive.

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