Cibola 106

This entry is part 105 of 119 in the series Cibola


Marcos (6) (cont’d)

Beyond this bluff they say we’ll get
a view. There

on the plain. Fields
already green, a distant river glinting . . .

See how that hill rears up
like the hull of a capsized galleon!

And floating in its lee, the long-
sought citadel.
From here it looks like four, five,
six–yes, seven layers
mounting up like clouds
swollen with rain,
shot through with light.

I’ve never seen such an absolutely clear,
such a clean air
as this! And it smells
so sweet, simply to breathe
could require a hundred Hail Marys
in penance. It makes
the city seem close, as if I could stretch
out a hand & pinch between finger
& thumb those ant-like figures
swarming up & down the walls–
Lord forgive me.

Was Mexico in its heyday ever
so salubrious, so full of industry?
St. Francis, I give this whole land
thy holy name. Perhaps
through its power these people
can be tempered
like the wolf of Gubbio.
God willing, thy mendicants
can come to all these principalities
& bring them under the gentle
yoke of Christ. Can instruct them
in the holy days & fast days,
the Sabbath, the communion.
Give them better
tools & crops, perhaps
even sheep . . .

Though they may be less
in need of correction than most.
Who can blame them for being hostile?
The Spanish have been in New Spain
for twenty years, they must’ve
heard something.

No doubt the Negro was simply
too bold, too wild. Too free
with the fair sex–though of course
no conquistador. And as much
as he claimed to cure
through faith, he sure
made a show of his prowess
with pagan rattles. It’s not
for me to judge, of course–
& Scripture shows
God sometimes
loves a scoundrel . . .

it smells so sweet: Thanks to the recent thunderstorm. “I don’t know how a person could ever describe that scent. It certainly wasn’t sour, but it wasn’t sweet, either, not like a flower… To my mind it was like nothing so much as a wonderfully clean, scrubbed pine floor.” – Barabara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

like the wolf of Gubbio: According to legend, St. Francis once tamed a wolf that had been preying on livestock and people around the Italian city of Gubbio, negotiating a peace deal whereby the wolf ceased all predation in return for regular feeding by people.

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