Cibola 88

This entry is part 87 of 119 in the series Cibola



Night falls
& falls: a rain
of obsidian blades,
scalpel & lancet. Black
jaguar’s cough like
a hollow footfall, yawning
harlequin face, tongue curled
to strike: a blood-colored snake.
Orchids’ quicksand throats
overflowing with flies.

The sleeper
forgets to breathe.
The sleeper wakes up
in someone else’s dream,
bending over the dusk-dark
narcoleptic body,
tracing hidden trails
of sickness: sorcerer’s spoor
in the form of aches
& stabbing ulcers, bugs
& bullets of filth.
And the supine figure
slowly reveals
its true dimensions,
boundless–looming up
or abiding as the chest swells,
subsides–& the tobacco
smoke drifts in & out
like a mist, eddies,
spawns a whirlwind.
Spinning over
the darkening desert
the dreamer flies,
circles the highest sierra’s
rain-filled cap,
breaks through
to a hidden glen where
the darkness emits
its own illumination.

A wren
shows him the way
to the spring that leads
(she says) to the seven caves.
The water parts for them,
they trade their feather robes
for the shells
of small brown turtles
at home in the veins
of the earth.
When they mate, they strip
back down to
their human skins–copulate
face to face–but even still
she lays
a clutch of eggs
that hatch into a million
sightless minnows:
a kingdom of the blind
that has no use for a king
or his crystal cup,
his philosopher’s stone.
He grinds it to meal
in a mortar, gives it
his best diviner’s cast
& watches
where it goes,
follows its trail.
A short century later

he comes out on
the bottom of a lake
where two rivers join. And
at last, he rejoices, hearing
flutes & drums,
glimpsing domes
& shimmering towers.

He wanders through fragrant groves,
splashes his face with a fountain’s
astonishing liquor.
Everything is jade
or turquoise, white shell
or cowry, silver, gold,
every house is a palace
in this village of the Jinns.
He finds the dance &
they pause just long enough
to let him join the circle . . .

(To be continued.)

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