Cibola 33

This entry is part 33 of 119 in the series Cibola


Marcos (1) (conclusion)

He took him down, the Indian’s bloody
emaciated frame sprawling across his shoulders
with a strange weight he wouldn’t
soon forget. Cursed him
in the name of the Holy Trinity
for the first & as it happened
final time: Francisco gave up
the ghost sometime before midnight.
Hard to tell, the way he kept
his eyes open & teeth still bared,
the skin from too much fasting
already shrunk back against the skull,
like Death personified in one of those
chapbooks the beggars used to hawk
in front of the cathedral:
Death & the Maiden . . .
Death at the Banking House . . .
Death Goes on a Picnic With the Greedy Friar.
Who pulls his hat down against
the vastly more greedy sun.

Somewhere in the next dry riverbed,
he knows, his escorts are already
preparing the midday meal.

With some relief he notices
the sudden stillness: behind
as well as before & all around him
an almost otherworldly silence,
his own footsteps now the only sound.

Though this desert–he muses once again–
is never empty. Each bush,
each ground-hugging cactus
& flowering thorn tree sits apart
as if planted for a special purpose.

Here, one’s feet seem naturally
to fit the sober measure
of a pilgrim’s gait:
no ring-around-a-rosie.
No lost running in circles, thank God.
No tarantella.

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