Cibola 36

This entry is part 36 of 119 in the series Cibola


Shiwanna (1) (cont’d)

The rain priest of Hawikuh has
one nephew just past his seventh winter,
his youngest sister’s child & the one
he favors to succeed him. At his suggestion

they bring the boy into the kiva,
turn him naked in a circle
& sixteen pairs of eyes can find
no mark or scar. They ask him

Will you do this for the People, for Shiwanna?
It’s dangerous!
But he says Yes.
They turn him to face each of the six
cardinal points, including zenith

& nadir, have him lie down on
a deerskin pelt & drink the acrid
tea of sacred Datura.
His breath slows, goes south:

A place where the mountains smoke
he murmurs.

Corpses bob in every lake & river

while the living men women even children

dig tunnels quick as hungry shrews

hollow out the hearts of hills

leaving fields fallow lousy with weeds

the Corn Maidens wander in circles dizzy

as the last ears turn sour in the storerooms

only a few men have food

but they too go at it with a crazy haste

eating it seems on behalf of all the others

whose teeth rattle in rotten gums

can you hear them

scrambling down ladders deep in the ground

as if to reverse the Emergence

while some of the eaters go about

in great folds of cloth like moving mountains

hidden except for their hands & heads

shaved crowns glowing pink

an albino’s ensorcelled eye

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