Cibola 83

The Friar’s Camp: Song Contest (cont’d)

4. Owl-Meeter Shaman

a boy of ten summers
ay, ah! a boy of ten summers
I thought I knew something
when I went off into the hills
to hunt deer

*

my body lies broken
in a desolate place
far from the sound of water
our gray brother circles & keeps going
our shining-eyed companion
looks sideways without stopping

*

every spot
between you & the enemy
that can sleep a band of hunters
I can show
I know every secret thing
in this flowering land

*

what I paid
such a bitter price to learn
look out
it’s free for the asking

__________

As with many native American peoples, for the O’odham, owls are spirits of the dead. But they were not regarded with the kind of invariable dread found elsewhere. An aspiring shaman could learn songs from owl-spirits, who conveyed unique knowledge of both worlds and proffered a dangerous magic that could be turned upon enemies of the tribe. Owl-meeter shamans frequently became masters of war-making magic.

our gray brother, our shining-eyed companion: Traditional O’odham poetic euphemisms for Coyote.

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