Cibola 29

Marcos (1) (cont’d)

Who but the Lord?
For idealists like Las Casas there’d be
few other options, denying Satan’s power
as they do. With a conjuror’s wave
Bartolomé used to dismiss all talk
of rivals to the Good Word:
Men need little help to lie,
to covet, to rebel. It’s
our conscious choice of the light
that makes us worthy of salvation.

He revisits the memory a second time
in a slightly different key, rehearses
the argument as it should’ve happened:
an articulate Marcos pointing out
that with malevolent spirits so strong–
their rites so various & seemingly ancient–
would it not rather seem the case
that these tattooed nations sprang
from none but Cain, first & most deceitful
of all marked men?

For not only sorcerers & idolatrous priests
but everyone, as he’d discovered–
everyone consorted with familiars.
In dreams they came chivvying,
dickering down the price of a soul
to little more than power
over a game of sticks,
success with women or the hunt.
And if not in dreams, in drugged trances.

Or merely through mortification of the flesh:
he remembered how as they died
they begged for hairshirts.


first & most deceitful of all marked men: See Genesis 4:15.

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