Cibola 110

This entry is part 109 of 119 in the series Cibola


Owl-Meeter Shaman (conclusion)

Ah, my brothers & sisters,
my nieces & nephews whose scalps hang
in the eastern rainhouse,
go where they send you:
to the springs, to the great oceans. Swim
& burrow through the mud. Be happy
if you can.

I watched that red-faced chief encircle us.
Those he sprinkled water on–already
their shadows grow thin.
They drape the crossed sticks
with all the flowers they can find
but still their skins loosen.

In the smoke from my cigarette
I can see a bitter wind
building in the south,
scattering our ragtag remnants
across the desert.
In the crystal’s frozen kernel, a flood
that sweeps away towns
& buries villages. This time
it wasn’t the shaman who worked witchcraft.

Ah, my lost children,
be clouds, be rain–if you come back
wearing any other kind of feathers
I won’t be there to meet you.
Be siblings to the rainbow, to lightning,
to thunder that makes
the hollow mountains shake,
rattling their seeds.

The packrats have plenty of shamans.
Come visit us in the west
when the saguaro’s ripe.

the eastern rainhouse: I.e., Shiwanna.

that red-faced chief: I.e., Marcos de Niza.

if you come back wearing any other kind of feathers: I.e., as owls – a form frequently adopted by the spirits.

The packrats have plenty of shamans: Burrowing owls are sometimes referred to in O’odham lore as shamans for the packrats they live among (and predate upon).

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