Spirit, guide me now,
direct my steps.
Out of the thirty elders who joined us
for the last leg of the trip–crossing
this high despoblado lousy
with lightning-scarred little trees
tortured by the wind–
only two have stayed with me.
They scarcely bother to hide
As if I, from a week’s
journey away, could’ve saved
their townsmen from the Cibolans’
clubs & arrows!
Every time I move my lips in prayer
I get black looks. Good thing
that thunderstorm hit when it did,
the downpour turning the embers
of rage to melancholy.
If I die short of completing this mission
& submitting a final report, no matter.
Others will come & see
what I’ve seen–a mission field
fertile beyond belief. I know
my Redeemer liveth . . .
But these poor Indians
so many hundreds of leagues
from their homes–& so far,
yet, from the blessed
assurance of heaven–I can’t
abandon myself to God
while their souls still need my guidance.
Faithful beyond any I’ve
missionized among, these Sonorans.
And when Coronado comes,
he won’t be merciful
if I’m not alive
to stay his hand: so even
these other Indians, little though
they know it, need me,
a living dog.
when Coronado comes: Marcos will in fact accompany the Coronado expedition to Cibola the following year, and will suffer humiliation and ostracism when “Cibola” turns out to hold no treasures whatsoever, contrary to his glowing report. He will, however, help to prevent Coronado from wreaking vengeance on the Ashiwi for their initial resistance to conquest.
a living dog: “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4.