Down in the pine needles
in the snowstorm-stogged ravine
an Evenki idol stands
fixing his eyes on the taiga.

Aggressively squinting,
he watched until the time came
when Evenki women started
hauling presents to him.

They brought him mukluks and parkas,
they brought him honey and fur,
figuring that he’d pray
but mainly think for them all.

In the dark assurance
that he’d understand,
they’d smear his mouth
with warm deer blood.

But what could he do, the phony
little god,
with his fierce, wooden
whittled-down soul?

Now he’s looking through the branches,
abandoned and dead.
No one believes in him;
no one prays to him.

Did I just dream this up? At night
in his ravine, far off yonder,
he sets his eyes
on fire, overgrown with moss,

And listening to the snowstorm
blast down, licks
his lips. Lord, I know it.
He wants blood.

Translated by James Dickey with Anthony Kahn

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