Cibola 54

This entry is part 53 of 119 in the series Cibola


Shiwanna (2) (conclusion)

The holy warriors of Shiwanna
descend to the slaughter, sparing only
a single pair of children.
They smash the fences, free
the herds of deer & mountain sheep
who need no prompting to escape
back into the wild.

Such a one-sided victory is dangerous.
As long as the Ashiwi live at the Middle Place
they must look after this tribe of ghosts.
They feed & clothe them, sing
their songs word-for-word
& dance their dances. The two
survivors carry their name forward
as a thirteenth clan.

Everywhere a warrior falls
the Earth Mother in gratitude
sprouts a miniature pueblo,
a rainhouse made from sand. Ants
of whatever color will fill
the priestly offices. In the end
very little gets resolved in the way
one might expect. The dream
follows dream-logic, & the roles
with all the romance belong
to the others. But with each reenactment
something vital is restored.
Freed from their wardens
the animals return to the wild, yes,
but the ones with claws & canines
are already there–&
here . . .

a miniature pueblo, a rainhouse: In the stylized art of Pueblo Indians, rain clouds always have a rectilinear and stepped appearance. It struck me as I was studying the literature on the Zuni and their neighbors, for whom so much public religiosity seems focused on bringing rain, that their very architecture represented an attempt to attract the favor of the rain gods through mimesis. The collecting of scalps (in a communal scalp house, in the case of the Zuni) was also connected with rain-bringing magic, as indicated by a quote in the last Reader section. The top of the head was homologized with cloud-covered peaks. Thus, cloud, mountain, pueblo and head were analogous nodes in a dense allusive web. Ants and ant-mounds were seen as microcosms of the human world.

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