Cibola 11

This entry is part 11 of 119 in the series Cibola


Beginnings (cont’d)

In the cities on the lake
in Mexico, too, the Aztecs
wax nostalgic for a fabled past–
a story they may have stolen,
like everything else, from those
they sought to surpass: how
their fathers once inhabited
seven caves far to the north
& half the tribe remains there
while the rest wander southward,
shunned by everyone.
When they rise to power
they strip the chronicles of all
competing accounts. This world
needs to be flayed.
But in
the songs, the Flower World
beckons from every horizon,
true home of jaguar & eagle.
The knife-winged vulture
casts one eye
toward its former haunts.

Flower World: The chromatic, flower-laden spirit world in pre-Cortezian and 17th-century Nahuatl poetry. Versions of the Flower World also occur in oral literatures in many other Uto-Aztecan languages, including Huichol, Yaqui, Piman (O’odham) and Hopi, as well as some of their neighbors, including Zuni.

jaguar & eagle: Totems of the two, main warrior societies of the Aztecs.

knife-winged vulture – Knife-wing, in Zuni cosmology, is the guardian of the Zenith.

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