May God prolong your life by Neil Baker

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In the almond grove
on the road to Aleppo
Fatima the shepherd’s daughter
Takes from beneath her skirts
the iron hare.

She waits as the butchers
cut through the grove
Pours the black powder
Adds a fist of stones

A hand grips her shoulder
She stands to strike the flint
Says her mother’s name
Commands the hare
to speak
And slips away.

Background
So, my chosen object isn’t a piggybank, although it does look like one. It’s actually a handheld cannon. It comes from Syria, around 1300, and is in the shape of a hare. Add gunpowder and stones, and the hare spits fire from its mouth. An inscription on one side reads, “May God prolong its life”.

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