Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Branches of the dawn

 photo Xibalba1.jpg

Xibalbá

When I arrived at the Temple of Fear, you were already
there. Robed in mulegrass and lichen, you lay draped
over stones where macaques rouse the branches of the
dawn, day after day, amid parrotskitter and phalanxes
of driver ants marauding the jungle floor in search of
the next unwilling god to bring to war, vanquish, enslave.

Your gaze was green, mantis-eyed, lost on some detail
unseen or irrelevant, fresh blood cherries bowled at your
elbow left by pilgrims long vanished by night’s end.
In your hand, a black quill poised over broodpaper seized
with grace, something arced and sloped there in an alien
cursive no clever deciphering would reveal as to meaning.

 photo Xibalba2.jpg

Somewhere above us, monsoon moved in the sky as
I stood trembling before you. This was the place for
that. To immerse in serene wrath or subsist on silence
was my dilemma as I pressed and repulsed in stillness
as leaves fell mute, clouds joined and ripped apart, all
of it free of omenology, any sense of contrived direction.

So I did nothing, said nothing, and left the way I came,
back through doubt and regret, lianas twisted in slipless
knots, the way I knew I had come yet all of it foreign and
untraveled, strung anew without meaning or purpose, the
passage impenetrable and inviting, hacking and cutting,
until I stood in the clearing holding the sword of the sun.

Joseph Gallo
August 1, 2013

 photo Xibalba3.jpg

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