"The Writings of Mongsee"
by Marcia Wickes
All He Had To Do Was Stop

After the battle was lost, and
His comrades were gone, dead or fled, 
He stood alone with his enemy, straight and silent, 
Young bronze face impassive, when the
Choice was given.....and pausing not, he chose death with honor,
Not counting the cost.....so, in the flickering hellfire of
The tribal flames, they slit his belly,
Roped out his intestines and nailed one end
To the stake......
Run, they told him; and his face, sheened over
With agony's sweat, flinched but a fraction
As he began to circle the post.......
And the enemy cheered his courage as
He staggered but remained afoot,
Circling around the post as his entrails
Wound.....a grisly Maypole/nightmare image,
As he ran, head held high, proving his courage,
Standing for his tribe and moving in honor.
But all he had to do was stop,
For it to be over......all he had to do was drop
In his tracks, and they would kill him as he lay.......
The pain would be gone, the torture over forever......
All he had to do was stop.
And he stumbled once, as he slipped in his own blood
Mixed with the earth,
And he thought of his mother;
He thought of his young wife, belly big with
The child he would never know;
He whispered her name,
Just once, and his boyvoice quavered,
But then
His pride made him  a man once more 
And he rounded the pole yet again,
Thinking surely it would soon end the monsters in his belly
Would take him down and he would
Be done be done be done......
He knew that all he had to do was stop,
And close his eyes in silent acceptance of
The merciful knife that would cut the pain
And send him to the Great Bear that
Even now, hovered overhead waiting for him....
All he had to do was stop.....
But he twined his gut around the pole until the
World went white and at last he dropped;
And they put him aside and sang his name,
Touched him and daubed themselves in 
His blood,  for courage, 
As the flies walked across his vacant eyes
And far away the girl who carried his child cried out once
In her sleep and was still, waiting for the dawn.....
And all he had to do was stop,
To make it be over.  All he had to do was stop.

I think, sometimes, that there must be
An easier path, an easier way
To live my life.... I feel sometimes,
That my gut is roping out and I bite
Back the cries of pain and fear.......
I live, with honor, I work, I fight the fear,
I try and I try and I try and I try
To do and to be what I am supposed to do, to be
And it hurts, sometimes, oh goddess it hurts...........
And there are those who say of me,
All she has to do is stop..... to make the pain go away, 
Nobody is forcing her to feel those things and to walk
That path, nobody makes her live
The way she lives...... and it is true........
All I have to do is stop......
In the end it will all turn out the same.........
But I think of honor, and I think of pride,
I think of responsibility and I think
That if I do this now, someone else may
Be spared the terror of thinking that 
No one else has ever walked this way before........
But it is a temptation..... I think of peace,
I think of the easy way, that I could have
If I would just give in........... and I wish sometimes that
I had less honor, and more
Because, it is true.......goddess help me,
It is true..........
All I have to do is stop.

-----Marcia Wickes

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