Written in trochaic rhythm, after the rhythm of Finland's classic tale, The Kalevala, Poe's The Raven, and Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha, Lalibela, Priest King of Ethiopia, is a spiritual biography of death and resurrection, based on legends of the historical 13th century figure. When Lalibela, Priest King of Ethiopia, is murdered at the hands of his jealous step-brother and step-sister, and buried in the cleft of a rock face, he has a vision of the Archangel Michael, who instructs him to build ten churches. Lalibela must rise from the dead in order to fulfill his mission of building the ten rock-hewn churches. A soothsayer has a vision of the future, while standing on a mountaintop, in the dry and rocky land of Ethiopia. In his vision, he sees a dark-skinned infant being born to ble parents, in the cleft of a rock face. The father is King Zagwe of Ethiopia, and the mother, Keru Worgna, is the daughter of an Ethiopian priest. The Soothsayer hears the sound of bees buzzing, and smells the sweet scent of honey around the child. They name the child Lalibela. The soothsayer's prophecy of Lalibela's birth reaches his soon to be step-sister, Orierna, and step-brother, Gophre. They are jealous because they kw that if a young prince is born, he will inherit the kingdom. If Lalibela dies, Gophre will become the king. So, they vow to murder Lalibela before he reaches the throne. The prophecy is fulfilled, Lalibela is born 'in the cleft of a great rock-face', just as the soothsayer predicted. He grows up into a kind, loving and wise young man, showing love for nature and for every living creature. He cant bear to eat before anyone else, even his dog. So, he always feeds his dog and servant first. Orierna and Gophre grow more and more jealous of Lalibela. One day, Orierna asks the Witch Doctor to give her a poison herb, so she can murder her step-brother. He warns her that Lalibela is destined to be king, and says she is wicked for wishing him dead. When she persists, he gives her the poison herb, explaining that one lives who tastes it, 'only he whom God has favored'. Orierna grabs the herb and hurries away to do her evil deed. Orierna makes a potion from the poison herb. While Lalibela lies in his chamber waiting for his servant to bring his supper, Orierna chases his dog away and overtakes the servant. She puts the poison into his food, and serves it herself to Lalibela. As is his custom, Lalibela calls back his dog and his servant to eat before him. Orierna and Lalibela watch in horror, as the dog and servant both die a painful death in front of their eyes. Orierna runs away in fear. Lalibela is heartbroken that his beloved friends died because of him, so he decides to accept his fate. He eats the poisoned food. As he feels his life slipping away, he forgives Orierna and wishes Gophre well in his new kingdom. At last, his lifeless body collapses. Orierna and Gophre carry the body of Lalibela into the mountains, and bury him in the cleft of a rock face. When they feel warmth still coming from his body, they decide to leave the tomb open, for the elements to finish him. While Lalibela lies in his tomb, he is carried up to heaven and has a vision. The Archangel Michael instructs him to build churches out of stone, and teaches him the spiritual wisdom of the world. Then he baptizes Lalibela in the River Jordan and commands him to return to his homeland to build the churches. After three days, Lalibela overcomes the poison and rises from his tomb. He returns to his homeland, and with the help of his people and the angels, over a period of many decades, builds the ten rock-hewn churches, which are still standing to this day in Lalibela, Ethiopia! The author, Bonita Maffei, is an artist, Eurythmist and writer living in Monterey, California.