Witch Doctor Song

Leapt from village to village all summer, bloodborne. They came out of the forest singing that way, and the ones who could ran until they fell down. Boys dangling drain plugs for muti, for medicine, out of their minds. Out of bread singing bullets couldn’t find them at all; crowns made of vines made them invisible; grenades and mortar shells melted to water as long as they danced. God only knows what they ate in the woods, what they took with their eyes. But we butchered them all because my captain say, crazies you kill, else they keep coming back. By an altar of calabashes and cowrie once, he had seen: How they mingled the blood of a goat and a rooster, green snake and spice. What it does to the child, and then he can’t say no anymore. Some will offer a sacrifice, like a hen, since they’re afraid of what they have done and what they will do. In my village, we had a person like that. Behind his hut in the furthest night time, he’d bring a lamp. Mostly, you’d have to pick through the rattle and clatter of monkey jaws, baboon hands, lizard tails — piled like engine parts, laid out on benches he got from a church. All I bought was a couple of pouches and gourds–nothing like lion fat, nobody’s finger bones; nothing like hippopotamus grease, no rhinoceros horn. But the girl’s hair was braided; her eyes were closed. We saw her face in the river that was. There was nothing more left. Only her head was there facing a clear sky among the reeds.

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