He was, you know. Dried out and salted down
By men who had carried his stuff all over their
Country, for reasons they thought inordinately
Silly, chasing after the birthplace of a big river.
But when David died, they determined to carry
Him all the way across several countries, a trip
That took five months, through incredible thick
Woods. They dried and salted him, which he’d
Have appreciated, being Scottish, a thrifty soul.
Best to keep the essence while reducing excess.
Ten of the men who carried his leathery corpse
Died on the journey, and it was a heroic parade
Through unmapped jungle and dangers, but me,
This morning, I think of the quiet as they salted
Their friend. It must have taken days to get him
Just right for the journey. Probably they prayed.
There are so many ways to be heroic and so few
Have to do with violence. We hardly ever shout
That, though. We love shiny things, like swords.
But imagine those quiet days”it was early May
In Africa. His friends turn him ever so carefully,
Five men at once. You can just hear their voices
Murmuring as they smooth the salt like a prayer.

Articles by Brian Doyle

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