The woman toiled forward,

The sun radiating heat

Beat beat beating down

On her back like

Congo drums or a

Drunken husband.

Feet worn hide tough

Began to crack and bleed

Between blister ravines,

And in her arms, a

Physically heavy yet

Delightfully light burden,

A bundle of joy,

Her boy, though wrought

With illness.

She stumbled into the village,

Seeking the counsel and medicine

Of those purported wise,

Chosen by all the people

Of the land to lead them,

They are responsible for the

Proper allocation of life

As we come to know it.

Those men sat around a fire,

Drinking home brewed wine and

Talking of conquests past and

Those with potential for plunder

And gain.

The woman’s pain yielded to relief:

Her boy was now in good hands,

And betwixt agonizing sobbing

And gore and dirt caked throbbing

She knew the joy of sanctuary.

Those men looked at her with

Equal parts amusement and

Contempt. They had no intention

Of helping heal the son.

“Why must we heal him when

He is yours to heal?

Your village surely has a healer,

Woman,” their voices thick with

Self-righteous and selfish venom.

“We have one who only accepts

Gold as payment, and another

Who kills more than he helps.

Why is it you can not help me?”

“We have decided it best that

The villages deal with it themselves.

’Tis not our place to administer

Medicine when there’s so much

To be done in looking after

The people,” the leader,

His hair wispy silver and gold,

Decreed.

“Be gone, and good luck.

I’m sure your village healer will do fine.

If not, find another.

It is not our place,

Or responsibility.”

And with the denial of medicine

And care and decency and empathy

To a sick child,

The abdication to one’s claim to

A values-based, moral high ground

becomes complete.

With a shrug of the shoulders and

A stroke of penmanship on parchment,

A callous shirking of inherited responsibility

Manifests itself as a crumbling facade,

Plaster of paris skin peeling away

Like leprosy, revealing nothing

But insect infested rot beneath.

With this abdication,

One cannot purport to care

About one’s fellow

Man and woman.

This abdication gives one lease

To plumb deep dark depths

Of scum previously unexplored

For fear of righteous retribution.

For one cannot fear

Divine righteousness

When one has killed the deity,

And made a mask of its face.

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