Cibola 15

Beginnings (conclusion)

Every day a new feast: venison,
bread made from mesquite flour,
wild tepary beans. Roadside shelters
are strewn with a riot of blossoms
from the freshly watered desert,
no less miraculous for being
an annual event. Stick figures
balloon with sudden blessing,
a haze of green. Marcos preaches
honey from the rock, oil from
the flint-hard ground, & the ragged
survivors kneel at the foot of
the cross. The strongest medicine
always belongs to the enemy.
Marcos & his Indian oblates
can’t perform enough masses.

By the end of March they’re traveling
through lands no Christian before them
has reached–& despite the no-doubt
terrible rumors, they still find
a welcome. It may be
that the story of the Four
has taken wing. And these two
with their sharply divergent looks
& ways are a new marvel,
go together as day follows night.


honey from the rock, oil from the flint-hard ground: Deuteronomy 32:13

Marcos and his Indian oblates: For the purpose of the poem, I imagine Marcos traveling in the company of two Indian oblates, donados given to the Franciscan order at an early age to be trained as friars (which there was still, in 1539, every reason to believe would soon be possible for Indians). In fact, one contemporary source does refer consistently to Marcos as one of three priests on the journey to Cibola, so my supposition is not entirely unwarranted.

Series Navigation← Cibola 14Cibola 16 →

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.