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.

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