Pekwin (a.k.a. Sun Priest, Word Priest)
This is how it unfolds, as plainly
as if it were painted
in lines of prayermeal:
when the men in metal come to Shiwanna
our warriors, outnumbered as they are,
put up a respectable fight.
This time our enemies enter from the west,
drink like fools from the Lake
that withholds nothing,
this time their dreams will burn off
like a morning fog. Will turn
to light, a white breast feather,
one grain of gold.
When they depart,
their stone-footed familiars
crumple under them.
This time we have better intelligence:
that their witch doctors–five men in brown
robes & two in tunics–will prevent
a slaughter. They ask after
the black man, yes–but not
to avenge him. They’ll come to feel
his death relieves them
of some distasteful thing. And greedy as
they all are–as apt to steal
& murder as any witch–
they’re voracious for tales
that enlarge upon their runaway
slave’s appetites. Why shouldn’t
we feed them?
Still, these strangers arouse
some sympathy. They are such children.
(To be continued.)