Cibola 93

This entry is part 92 of 119 in the series Cibola


Marcos (5) (cont’d)

The procession winds through the fields–
or are they gardens? Indian plantings
always remind him of the dooryard
gardens back home
in Provence, that same
commingling of tame & wild,
the artful confusions of herb
& tree & vine. He wonders if here,
too, they have cunning-men
& neighbor ladies gifted in
the knowledge of signatures,
God’s gossip with weeds.

But as they climb the dry slopes
beyond the reach of the last
irrigation ditch, they pass windrows
of rock piles like one would expect
at the edges of plowed fields–except
there’s very little growing between them
in the sun-baked clay, only
the hardiest thorn bush & creosote
& the annual evidence of springs unseen
already yellowed, powdering
under their sandals.

The cross stops before a large pit
black with charcoal
& Marcos finds himself in the middle
of the rogational psalm: My prayer
is unto thee Oh Lord
in an acceptable time
Oh God in the multitude
of thy mercy hear me,
in the truth of salvation.
Deliver me out of the mire,
don’t let me sink–from those
who hate me, out of the deep
waters–don’t let the flood
wash over me nor
the deep swallow me up.
Let not the pit
–he startles
at the aptness of it–
let not the pit close
her mouth around me. . . .
For the Lord hears the poor, his captives
he never scorns. Let the heaven
& earth praise him, the seas
& everything that moves.
For God will save Zion & rebuild
the cities of Judah . . .

Then the antiphon with the other Marcos,
who gazes impassively toward the north,
the wine-dark horizon:
Bless these fields. (We beg you to hear us.)
Bless these hills & mountains,
consecrate every wild tree & bush
from which these your servants
gather sustenance (We beg you to hear us).
And all else besides,
he murmurs: best
to cast the net widely, or not at all.

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