The Great Sac­ri­fice of the Ro­mans on Un­der­tak­ing a War

The Iowa Review - - KAREN SKOLFIELD -

af­ter the en­grav­ing in A Dic­tionary of All Re­li­gions, 1753

Not to be dis­mis­sive, but the Ro­mans aren’t sac­ri­fic­ing much. A pig, a ram, some flasks of wine, one guy’s hold­ing what might be a pie but it’s token more than trib­ute. The scene: fes­tive and ho­mo­erotic with bare-chested men twirling axes so butch they count dou­ble. An­kle bracelets, strappy san­dals, well-mus­cled legs. Of course this is be­fore the war, bench-press­ing babes con­tem­plat­ing a win. Even the giv­ing feels good, the ex­tra ox feed­ing lus­cious men like them­selves. Some­one’s pulled out a curvy in­stru­ment and is blow­ing that thing. Two oth­ers raise the long horns to their lips. The mu­sic so up­beat a conga line of an­i­mals is pos­ing hooves and shanks and the men dig it, ban­ners in the dis­tance, a lit­tle an­te­bel­lum bump and grind. No women, no sur­prise: no joie de la guerre from the ladies, and be­sides their sons, what would the women have to give? In po­ems I count the years un­til my son reg­is­ters for the draft. I know him: He’ll boo­gie to the post of­fice, sign his card. He’s down to six years, a num­ber which, in Ro­man nu­mer­als, looks like one not-quite man be­side the V for vic­tory.

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