The Epic of Cindy and the Priest

The Soviets smuggled rebels to the ancient Himalayas
equipped with weapons, cruelty, self-righteous rage and bias.
America reacted fast and sent her combat troops
to search and hide and ferret out those sneaky commie groups.

Cindy was a girl who had been drilled for heavy duty.
Her ambition was to prove herself despite her fragile beauty.
She would not be excused from any test by any means.
Cindy was a soldier now ­ a gem to the Marines.

Three months into battle now, and Cindy was a star.
Her bravery was excellent; she even wore a scar.
One day she crossed an open field upon that mystic land
and fixed her automatic on a strange, suspicious man.

He heard the click and turned around to face the lady soldier.
His face betrayed profound concern, which made him look much older.
Cindy raised her barrel to the level of his chest.
"If you wish to shoot", he said, "By all means, be my guest."

His English was impeccable, and he did not pretend.
A man of inner peace he was Initiate of Zen.
But Cindy's head was buzzing with that screaming battle cry:
A man who speaks like that, she thought, must be a Russian spy.

Cindy's voice was primitive, just like a jungle roar:
"Raise your arms and walk, man! You're a Prisoner of War!"
His eyes displayed deep pity as he answered her attack:
"First I'll pick my dinner herbs, and then I shall go back."

He turned around and started picking plants she did not know.
His diet was so simple; he ate only things that grow.
Cindy's hands were shaking as she tried to squeeze the trigger,
But something blocked her efforts that was infinitely bigger.

Suddenly, reactions that had always been suppressed
were rushing to her consciousness as though she were possessed.
Her knees turned into jelly, and she stumbled to the ground.
Her face was soaked in tears now, but she could not make a sound.

The Asian just took her hand and led her to his hut.
She wept without a whisper, tried to speak, but she could not,
Until she burst, "OK, you win! I'll do what you expect!
"But only as your prisoner! Don't think I will defect!"

The man of peace just sat her down and served some mango juice,
wondering which words of his would be of any use.
"It's curious," he said, "how you remind me of my niece
"But don't you know the battle kings are really War and Peace?"

Throughout the night the priest taught Cindy how to meditate.
She conquered all her rootlessness, her worries and her hate.
At dawn the hut was crowded and surrounded by the Reds.
He whispered, "Do not worry; all they want is our heads."

The rebel in command looked his odd couple over well.
His eyes were fierce and fiery with thunderstorms from Hell.
He spat into their faces as he clenched and raised his fist
The woman was a Yankee and the farmer was a priest!

These communists at was could only see one prompt solution:
They brought the prisoners outside to face their execution.
The priest took Cindy's hand and whispered, "This is only death."
Her heart was beating steady now, and easy was her breath.

The birds all scattered wildly as the guns discharged their fire,
And quickly came the Green Berets with hate and naked ire.
It lasted fifteen minutes sounding shots and screams and pains
The field was strewn with blood and meat and bones and guts and brains.

In the quiet of the aftermath came animals of prey.
Some of them were hungry, and this was their lucky day.
Faces dead in agony were waiting for their feast.
Only two were smiling ­ those of Cindy and the priest.

- Tarjei Straume, Phoenix 1982



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