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On the Fortieth Day

“On the fortieth day the earth was still bleeding”
but there were no prayer meetings at the White House.
The calamity had been the work of men.
The Leader, with a mandate from Heaven, could do nothing.
Without their prayers, their festivals, or their sacred dances,
the people felt helpless, betrayed.
With no way to help, they could not sleep.
Without the sleep that comes from lying on a peaceful earth,
the people dreamt by day.
Their own phantoms chased them.
In the forest, that fed them,
the dead piled up unburied–
No one performed the rites.
On the forty-first day the earth was still bleeding.

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