The Highlands of Sulawesi

by John Grey

I arrive at a courtyard
bordered by a dozen pigs
trussed up for slaughter.
My host informs me
his brother had been dead for days
but they had only now
rounded up the necessary rupiah.
This night, he tells me,
the deceasedís friends and relatives
will slaughter his way
into heaven.
He offers to introduce me
to his brother.
I follow him into the hut.
He hands me a bamboo cup
of palm wine,
points toward the decaying corpse
wrapped in blankets in the corner.
"To his health,"
is the best I can come out with,
and somewhere, in the background,
pigs squeal away
the last of the sun.

© 2003 by John Grey. All rights reserved.