Cibola 97

Shiwanna/Esteban (cont’d)

Don’t believe it.
Neither what you hear in Cí­bola
nor the missed footfalls
of your jackrabbit
heart. Think
like a jackal thinks. Act
like a blacksmith: no
unnecessary blows. Remember
your unknown father
in whatever sort of heaven he may
still find good hunting.

They broke
the gourd: good riddance.
They stripped me
of amulets, bells & feathers,
tobacco pouch, even
the Holy Child
of Atocha: fine.
Maybe they’ll learn something.

From this cell I can hear
what goes on,
how they rush, argue,
fight among themselves.
Tonight I have nothing
but tomorrow I’ll make
their walls my armor–
you’ll see. They need
rain? I’ll bring it.
They’ll need protection
from Cortez,
from Coronado; I’ll be
their shield . . .

They have me figured
for a corpse. Well,
nothing cures whatever ails
like death. Old Bones,
you know what Hippocrates says:
we’re each sworn to guard
the other’s secrets,
yes? But in any case
you’re way too pale
for this climate.
That friar with
his shaved head sure ought
to earn a halo
from this, if only
to keep off the sun . . .

A good man, I admit. The rare
honest brownrobe, sure
of nothing but
God’s mercy. For that
I envy him. Still,
give me the license to think
my own, my will-
ful thoughts:
give me the desert
no one else wants, the shape-
shifting sands, the thorn-
scrub to explore
in an ever-diminishing circuit.
To chart, to map
in ever-growing detail,
right up to the smallest
spider mite,
a red mote in some vagrant angel’s eye.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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