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Friday, April 18, 2014

POEM #18- MACCHU PICCHU

Alpacas, by Philippe Lavoie, from Wikimedia Commons

This month I'm dragging myself, kicking and screaming, through Mary Lee's "Our Wonderful World," poetry challenge. Actually, as much as I've complained, and as hard as it is to find the time to write a poem every single day, I really am enjoying the challenge. I love making myself write every day (I wrote in the Slice of Life Challenge last month, so I've blogged 49 days in a row, but who's counting??). I love learning about all of these places. It's fascinating to think about how these ginormous edifices were built, mostly without modern machinery. Most of all, I love the little community that has formed- Mary Lee (you can also read her poems at her new Poetrepository) , Kevin (Kevin's Meandering Mind), and I, just kind of tromping vicariously all over the world writing poems and cheering each other on.

Today, as I researched Macchu Pichu, I thought about the big stuff- the Inca civilization, the incredible construction, the audacity of Spanish conquistadors, etc., but I was particular struck by this teeny tiny fact. Each night, after the tourists have left, alpaca, who I think are a native species, are led into the funerary hut, where they spend the night grazing, to keep the grass in the area short.

"Alpaca"

One thousand years ago,
when the highlands of Macchu Pichu
echoed with cries of White-Tipped Swift,
and Collared Trogon
and rainbow winged butterflies
flitted through lush tropical forests
we were there
grazing

And seven hundred years ago
as Inca craftsman hauled
enormous blocks of stone
up steep slopes
to build temples and tributaries
and observatories
we were there
grazing

Six hundred years ago
Spanish conquistadors arrived
plundering pillaging
decimating ancient civilization
and we were there
grazing

One hundred years ago
a little boy
led eager anthropologists
eight thousand feet
up steep mountain slopes
to vegetation covered ruins
and we were there
grazing

Tonight
as darkness fall
three thousand tourists
will cease their climbing
and exclaiming
and clicking
we will still be there
grazing

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2014

Poetry Friday today is at Robyn's Life on the Deckle Edge.

10 comments:

LInda Baie said...

Wonderful to think of the steadfastness of their history, and you're shown it so beautifully, Carol. I haven't checked the facts, but someone told me recently that Macchu Picchu would soon be closed to tourists. Then the alpacas will finally have it to themselves.

Mary Lee said...

Masterful, the way you used one small detail to show the whole big picture.

I'm sorry about the kicking and screaming, but I do love our little world-traveling poetry posse!

Now that you're a bit ahead, you can join me in writing tomorrow's poem today/night!

Buffy Silverman said...

Love this alpaca's view of history--delightful!

Violet N. said...

What a great history-embedded poem! I looked at Mary Lee's list and thought of joining in, but realized what a lot of research would be involved for me. Kudos on keeping up with the challenge. You'll have a folder-full of great poems at the end!

Violet N.

Tara Smith said...

I love the way you've celebrated your poet community "tromping vicariously all over the world writing poems and cheering each other on." That's motivation enough! Love the alpaca's view - and the stunning details.

Ruth said...

I love this!

Robyn Hood Black said...

My hubby went to Machu Picchu year before last and came back with some nice alpaca photos, and scarves! I've always loved these animals, and a dear friend has a small herd at her farm.

Congrats on your participation in Mary Lee's global challenge - really love the repeating final line of these stanzas.

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Love reading about the Spanish conquistadores - apparently my ancestry can be traced back to the 1800s during the time that the Conquistadors came to colonize the Philippines - such a fascinating heritage and mixture of races. Love knowing more about Macchu Picchu through poet's eyes. :)

Dogtrax said...

we will still be there
grazing
when all the two-leggeds leave
when the sun has its fill
and the full moon rises up over hill
and mountain,
we wend our way with our own slow rhythm
at peace, alone, here
at home.

Kevin
PS - lifting your repeating line and working from there.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

It makes me smile to think of those alpaca... grazing. I love how they, in their innocence, anchor this poem. Well done, Carol.