ON BRUEGHEL’S MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
He’s switched the scene from Bethlehem
to 16th-Century Flanders, from Herod’s rampage
to the Spanish Duke of Alba’s. Had he lived longer,
it could have been Wounded Knee, Baba Yar,
My Lai, or someplace we’ve yet to hear of.
Bunched soldiers block the road out of town.
In front of them, the butchery unfolds, children
skewered before their begging parents, more
bleeding-out on the snow. In the foreground,
assailants batter down a door, as others
climb through a window. Four more
circle in, spearing infants one by one
as a woman sits on the ground, baby sprawled
in her lap, and a straggler trots by, hunting
for his first. From a distance, captains observe
the show, bet if it will end in time for lunch.