Aaron Baker

Chimbu Wedding

When the villagers stake out a hundred pigs

and two men wade in with clubs,

watch how they float, cold as light out of heaven,

above the scene. When the pigs scream

and buckle with their skulls caved in,

remember that not one thing in this world

will be spared. Not one leaf. Not one

hair on a child’s head. See the women

hauling rocks to the fire-pits,

the boys kneeling to collect blood

in banana leaves, and think of St. Peter’s

vision: cloven-hoofed creatures descending

on a sheet, the sky saying “Take, eat.”

Learn to sit in the smoke with hunger sated

as children play with bladders they’ve inflated

like balloons. Learn a new language

for fellowship, and when you walk home

through the fields see if you can translate

the gloam-wrapped mountain’s whisper

as Come. Then, if there is a place

prepared for the saints, you will know

which way to turn at the crossroads.

You will not trouble the angel at the garden

gate for a way past her sword. You will

not remember what blood washed you clean.



“Chimbu Wedding” is from Mission Work (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).