Cibola 46

Marcos 2

Rising from his midday rest, the friar
rinses his face, tilts back the onetime
wineskin for a drink
of tepid water. A hint of sulphur.

Ye shall drink
from the cup I drink from
he murmurs in Latin, & passes
it back.

Again that dream from the wilderness
of the Old Testament:
the brass serpent God ordered Moses
to affix to a desert snag
as prophylactic for a plague of snakes–
Gaze upon it & live. This time

the tree’s a green giant, stout
buttresses armored with spines like
a church turned into an engine of war,
branches like arms bent at the elbows,
upraised–the by-now familiar gesture
signing Welcome:
we are unarmed (true),
we have nothing worth taking
(a diplomat’s strategic lie).

Just below the top there’s a hole,
a gaping hollow, where
a pair of gold coins shimmers
& blinks. The little owl
shall also nest there
he thinks,
recalling the prophet’s sketch of desolation
with a smile. Further evidence
Scripture anticipated these lands
unknown to Aristotle or Seneca.

(To be continued.)
_________

the brass serpent: see Numbers 21:9

The little owl shall also nest there: Isaiah 34:14

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