Written on the Body: Liver


My liver may be fucked but my heart is honest
(Passenger, Things that stop you dreaming)

For the ancient Greeks, the liver was the organ in closest contact with divinity.  They practiced something called hepatoscopy, which was the ritual sacrifice of oxen or goats, examining their livers to determine whether a military campaign would succeed or fail.


The flames lapped at the air, hot tongues
with no mouths, no heads, no bodies.
Outside the circle, her body lay bloodied,
incision turned skywards,
the shape of an eye, unseeing.
The liver, seemingly beating,
lay inside the circle by the fire,
surrounded by their feet.  It was full of blood
that itched towards the divine,
lit by fire, glistening, burning,
becoming still and dry.
From its remains they sought to reveal
the will of the gods, cutting it open to divine
the outcome of a marriage, a battle, a birth.
In the earth they left their markings
scorched and hardened by the heat
from passing thought into prophecy.
Meanwhile,  the goat lay open, just outside,
with eye-shaped cut and red, half-hooded eyes.


2 thoughts on “Written on the Body: Liver

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