Cibola 26

Marcos (1) (cont’d)

But today it’s another,
an older ghost that dogs him:
his first convert in the Indies,
the one he baptized Francisco, trailing
a half-pace behind, right foot dragging–
that queer, quick shuffle. Marcos
fights the urge to turn & look.

It comforts him a little to observe
that the anger, the blasphemous
promptings he used to choke back
so often in this man’s company
no longer play hob with his digestion.
Perhaps one day by the grace of God
he’d achieve that firmness
that comes to some with age. How
he’d admired the farmers
in his childhood parish in Provence
who grew to resemble the granite
they spent their lives unearthing,

year by year patiently picking
at their fields, the way
pox victims with untied hands
keep raking their bloody skin.
Whole churches rose on stones
that stopped the plow.

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