Cibola 32

Marcos (1) (cont’d)

So now (he murmurs) if I still lack
the equipoise of an elder–the requisite
wisdom of a presbyter in the Order–at least
I’ve found a sort of key to one
small puzzle: why Francisco seemed
so elated there at the end. Lent,
the season when a true Christian
should mourn, especially
with all his fellow villagers dead.

Hadn’t he been shunned when Marcos
first arrived? Hadn’t he kept
his medicine bundle (as it turned out)
ensconced under the altar, complete
with the friar’s long-lost mirror
& little tufts of hair
from each of the corpses they’d buried?
Sentimental, Marcos had thought
at the time. But now . . .

The village had followed Francisco
into baptism, as if afraid to let
him keep that grace to himself.
And their loyal servant
of Christ–Ha!–still ready to believe
he’d truly helped save
at least one soul–however
he might dislike the man–
                                            right up
until Good Friday morning,
when he entered the chapel & found
Francisco hanging, God (or the Devil)
knows how, from a new cross
in front of the altar,
crimson teardrop-shaped
flowers sprouting from his brow,
& more blossoms–yellow,
white, violet, blue–festooning
the arms of the cross, clusters
of thorns impaling wrist & palm.

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