Cibola 117

This entry is part 116 of 119 in the series Cibola


Simon Zopeloxochitl (conclusion)

My lord, this stranger whose dream-
double I could never find, this shaper
of destinies, his mist still lingers.
Though one who took
the ash heap for a mother,
the crossroads for a father–
though a slave–his rumor
still lends an iridescence
to these ruined cliffs.

In the end as in the beginning
no tongue is equal to its task,
a soft piece of leather flapping
between flint knives.
The sayings of the wise,
the paintings,
the flowery songs–all vanish
in the flames of rebirth. And since
even the sages couldn’t tell
whether we dream or wake,
how can our strongest spells
be more
than smoke?

My lord Yacatecuhtli,
the vulture is a thing that circles
& never has to land.
Everything he sees is on the way
to its final appointment:
all words to him
are last words.

Grant your servant instead
the penultimate: the four-
cornered flower
turning in the dark, rooted
between fire & water, is & was.
In the day that nears,
let the dawn star alone
feed the sun.

Most of the metaphors in this segment are based on classical Aztec kennings. The two sentences beginning “The sayings of the wise” echo common themes in Aztec poetry.

dream-double – An animal alter-ego who lives in the underworld, where the sorcerer travels in dreams. Killing someone’s double results in their own death.

Yacatecuhtli – Patron deity of travelers, especially long-distance traders. Simon is addressing his human patron as if he were the avatar of this god.

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