An appendix to my Field Guide
to Evil offers instructions
for devising Satanic relics.
The bones of an infant’s arm
upholstered with dried seaweed
and boxed in carefully carpentered
hickory or ash, for instance.
One is not encouraged to murder
a child but find one killed by bombing
or other act of war, then purchase
the sad little corpse from parents
whose grief seems authentic but
subject to the flux of currency.
Another example needs stones
washed down the River Jordan
all the way to the Dead Sea. Fill
a skull with these stones so tightly
it doesn’t rattle; seal the eyes
and neck-hole; cement the jaw shut;
then gild the assemblage and pose it
on your mantle where dinner guests
will find it charming. Still another
requires the ashes of a blood
relative dead of natural causes.
Mix the ashes with clay and throw
a pot on a hand-cranked wheel;
glaze and bake; use the pot to store
pebbles from Mecca, Medina,
Nazareth and Jerusalem.
Of course such relics can’t function
in our nuclear world; but I hope
that hearing about them relieves you
of otherwise obtuse gloom.