The River Speaks El Indio Calavera
Cuando el río suena. . . when the river roars, it bears water. The indian skull floats south to north, north to south. Speaks in the eddies. Banks: the silent lips of el indio. When the river is silent, a hushed head is caught in the nets of absence. In the north the river is south; in the south, the river is north. Easterly flow meeting the sun. Lips tremble.
Many years before you. I nearly died there: Río de la Pasión. A diminutive brown Indian woman cared. Humble paradise, the quiet waters of the Lago de Izabel. To the mountains this time. Close to Méjico. Close to the Pacific Ocean (uncanny name for those waters). Guatamala healed me once and sent me north to you.
I sit in Matamoros. It is hot. It is humid. The gulf is vast: it touches the blue sky, a thousand miles away?
I sit frozen, brown. I contemplate the journey. It is infinite. It will be hard. I will become hard, again. I think of your softness; but the gulf is vast… and the long river has no water for my skull.
I must move soon. Down to Uxmal. I shall weep at the ruins. I shall dream of human sacrifice in the dark wells. I will dream of your colors. Flowers always follow sacrifice. But the dream must end.
A warrior must never look back. Back. There is always someone there. Far back. In the north. Fall is coming brilliantly. And soon winter ice and snow. Your strong softness blends so well into that winterscape. . .
At Río Lagarto–I shall begin to forget the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and shall wipe away all of my memories on the trip to Ciudad Chetumal. Is that possible? I hope I have the strength to forget and to breathe in new air.
I wave goodbye to the north and to the Yucatan (the yuccas remind me of you, panicles of shadow-blossoms floating in blue- green waters: eerie serene faces of the one innocent face, at peace).
The river runs fast into the mouths of lovers.
No turning back now: only victory or death. I shudder at the sound Belize.
Concatenation. Violence. A hard dry chain. I was tied to previous birth, previous death. They all exceeded mine (especially that of a long-limbed brown war woman).
The desert once again, and you in the watery north, so soft, so moist, haunted by desire, sustained by wishes. Anguished. Waiting.
The news came back, a minor event: a cold knife flashed, blood flowed, an unknown traitor fell. He was buried (cold is the grave for us all). And the wounded animal hid in the desert that night, cold, moonless, wanting to cry, but would not even whimper.
The sun came out. As always. The desert keeps its secrets well. Winds and sands. Kind to the spirit. Would he look back to love? When hands of skull are buried, the desert wind intones: requies… But who or what shall rest? Time will not tell.
The night and the distant lights of Nuevo Laredo remained.
This was my past (time has no image). Sandia Mountain. The brown high desert of my very brownness. The weight of night lifted away by a tawny cord (lost to sight). Her tugs are violent. Fate at my side fishing for something, smiling, and irresistible.
Your eyes, scars weeping for life–begging to be born– inside of you. Gratuitous violence, life, come into the world again and again. Blood in veins, bones swaddled in flesh.
El indio del norte. Death skulls for hands. Give conjugal caress to the dusty one. Your miracle of blood is not as quick. You too would cast a spell. Mine long since cast. Dead men chanting in the dust-rays of the setting sun. A blast shattered the dark aquarium. Strange bulging eyes of fishes, final witnesses. She disappeared again. Something heard. The dust settling. A voice in flamenco rhythms: “you must love your fate, my beloved!”
A small brown boy. The butte, far and near. No time no space. Alone. The desert calls, brown, dry. Artificial flowers gathering summer dust in a cemetery. The butte is only warmed by the sun. It does not burn. Dead, alive, the wind will not say.
an indian is a lonely thing
The tall Navajo does not moan, does not beg for mercy. Struck in the face Will a Navajo blanket be his shroud? Drunk or proud (does it matter to the six grey veined fists?). Gun butts beat head and hands: fingers burst open, blue and purple life painted on white glistening bone.
the painted desert lives inside of us too
The tall Navajo will not let go of the telephone pole on first street. A cop stops, looks at the freight train and waves to the engineer. The Navajo’s eyes are swollen. They will not close. His lips are bruised. They will not open. Mouth and eyes are dry somehow, peaceful in the copper face of pain
the history of a race
What does he know, kissing that pole of death? The boy dreams of a pinto pony with sharp hooves: they will race the desert wind to the top of the dark butte. Hair and mane will flow smoothly–to be braided by the rising horizon. The jackrabbits will dig and dig and dig in the cemetery.
Saiz was born and raised in Navajo county in Northern Arizona. He teaches Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For Saiz, “the poem is not simply an artifact written by him but is strictly the communicational poetic dimension of his “creative” activity. Poems have a self-sufficiency, independent of the poet. He recognizes, of course, that poetic writing is a public comportment. Poetry is very public in its rapport with the reader (or the reader’s approach). This describes its communicational movement, ultimately its only reason for being.”
His books of poetry include The bird of nothing & other poems (1993), Horse (1996), and Chants of nezahualcoyotl & obsidian glyph (1996), published by Ghost Pony Press.