Cibola 98

This entry is part 97 of 119 in the series Cibola


Shiwanna/Esteban (cont’d)

What’s life worth
without such visions?
Be it the full three
score & ten, or cut
however short–as long
as there’s one, continual encountering . . .

It made my head hurt
when I read William
of Ockham–sanest
of mad Franciscans–outline
the blind alleys
down which a mind
can lead the soul
by abstraction.
Though he missed everything, of course . . .

Who will miss me
even notice
my absence? Who,
if they kill Marcos, will believe
these Indians?
My name–who will say it?
My work–how to keep it up
with the gourd gone
& almost all my faith
scattered along the way?

The friar would tell me
to pray: I believe.
Help Thou my unbelief.

Circular reasoning, sure,
the classic type.
But what the hell
did Aristotle know?
Or Seneca?
Or Pliny?
The high priests of Reason,
ignorant of all beyond their borders,
equating their backwater sea
with the great Ocean.

What did I know? These Seven
Cities are a joke: seven dusty towns,
seven confections of mud.
As crowded with busy little souls
as termite mounds.

Or are there in fact
only six, as some
of my guides kept saying?
Perhaps the seventh is just
a place for ceremony,
a capital where no one’s allowed
to spend the night. Or else
they have a different accounting,
refuse to let the whole dissolve
into enumerated parts.
Or simply equivocate . . .

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