Cibola 81

This entry is part 80 of 119 in the series Cibola

The Friar’s Camp: Song Contest (cont’d)

2. White-Feather Priest

straight along the western edge of the land
I went where the great birds cry
wheeling
alighting on hills of sand
on hills of sea

*

the sun just down
through the waves
a dark road opens
ai ah this pounding in my chest

*

there my guardian comes
with his white cane
there he strikes me
& drags me under

*

four kinds of water
he gives me to drink
a bitter brew I fly
on a bitter wind

*

then I hear then I hear
what the gulls are crying
then I gather
songs

*

at the still
center of the land
something pounds
something threatens to break

__________

This section draws its imagery from translations of O’odham song cycles and speeches associated with the once-annual salt pilgrimage to the Gulf of California. (I am not entirely certain who or what the spirit guardian represents.) It’s impossible to say how much of later, O’odham religious tradition echoes the priestly religion of their ancestors the Hohokam, but I imagine that basic elements of worldview have remained intact, including the notion of water as both dangerous and essential to life, and the conception of the earth as surrounded and underlain by it. This idea is too widespread in the broader Meso-American cultural region to have been derived from similar conceptions in the Hebrew Bible. And in what is now the desert southwest of the United States, such a belief system seems especially apt, given the perils of both floodwater cultivation and irrigation, which the Hohokam perfected to a degree elsewhere matched only by the desert agriculturalists of coastal Peru.

Series Navigation← Cibola 80Cibola 82 →
Posted in
Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

Leave a Reply