On What Strange Soil They've Fed
rating: +11+x

Recovered from a series of tablets found in northern Iran.
[…] indicates that a partial word was untranslatable or that the words that would complete the meter of a line could not be found. Bracketed words are possible or uncertain translations. Tablets are numbered in their probable order, the fourth being the most complete.

[…] walked, head bowed,
over the corpses of her slain—friends
and enemies are all hers now. Under
her feet the blood turned to grass
and the bodies to the trunks of trees.
Their armor became flower petals.

The new-made goddess of […]
[…] the blood of her

and told her people that they were not
to grieve because she would be their salvation.
She did not see herself as they did,
[…] with filth and bile
and as she walked toward them [arm/hand(?)]
her fingertips shone red. ‘I am your
new plenty,’ said the Rose. ‘I am
the red dawn the promises rain and
rich soil that [birth/mother/growth(?)]
[…] with rotting flesh

‘If you will not use my gifts in the spirit
they were given I will take them,’ she
said. ‘If these fields are not good enough
then you shall plough no fields at all.’

As she turned her back and walked
from them the flowers that had sprung
up in her footsteps where she [came/appeared/arrived(?)]
withered as if in a frost. […]
[…] cold [air/spirit]

They begged for their lives again,
for their [untranslatable] and the
prosperity the kind god had given
them before. The Rose listened, unmoved,
from her seat in the branches of the
[world/all(?)] tree. She called down in her
booming voice like the great hollow
of a long-dead tree: ‘You had your
[…] when I was born
[three lines missing]
at the beginning of the world when
the sun was new. The god who ruled
my domain then was weak. [? did not]
understand that life is a [precious stone/rare(?)]
and must be earned.’

The people cried out;
they had not eaten for a week, sharing out
the last of their bread between the
old and sick. Even hunting parties
turned out […]
she had just as surely killed
the animals for lack of grass. […]
[…] their [tears/water(?)]

After a month the Rose returned,
red fingers like sunrise held aloft.
‘Have you reconsidered?’ she asked
the elder. […]
with heavy heart he replied, ‘Yes.
Half the village is dead, and instead of
[…] eat their flesh
[…] beasts you chased away.
We are ready to do what you ask
if we never have to suffer like this

The Rose was delighted,
and in her laugh a warm [air/spirit] blew
[…] to the land as […]

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