Saturday, June 6, 2020

The River of Sacrifice

I am told where the desert joins the sky, the river is borne from the snowmelt of Mó-ha-loh. The water is cool and desirable as it ripples over hard stones of the Red Willows, bathes the root of marshes, freshens the skin of the cracked desert, and cedes to the Rio Grande in the bed of the canyon.

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He leads me to the marsh with his hand in mine; a hand he says I should not hold.
“My hand is only to take me from the watchful pueblo.
Come undress me, two-spirit, with the stars by the river.”

He gives me a drink that he cups with his hands; a drink he says I should not taste.
“The water is only to quench my searing thirst.
Come drench me, two-spirit, with the rain by the river.”

He touches my lips that he found with his own; a kiss he says I should not linger.
“The kiss is only to stifle my smoldering fire.
Come douse me, two-spirit, with the snow bed by the river.”

He blends his flesh and heat with mine; a communion he says I should not destine.
“My body holds captive a restless spirit.
Come release me, two-spirit, with the windstorm by the river.”

He settles my head on his drum beat chest; a song he says I should not hear.
“My heart belongs to one high elder’s flower.
Come abide me, two-spirit, with the shadows by the river.”

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He calls to me from his house of rooms; a home he aches to part.
“My wealth is burdened by nettled secrets.
Please welcome me, two-spirit, to the river of old!”

I dry his face with my trembling hand; a hand both bare and aged.
“You offer me only the shelter of night; no blessings beyond the dawn.
Do you pine for the love of me, one-spirit; or want for the river alone?”

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He leads me through the nights with his hand in mine; a hand I wish I could hold.
His hand only steals him from his pueblo house...
and leaves me with the break of dawn by the river, alone.

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I am asked by signs as I wander the homes of spirits to not touch the sacred water of Mó-ha-loh. The water is vital and faithfully serves the pueblo as it ripples over hard stones of the Red Willows and succours the marsh root, soothes the bare-boned desert's scorch, and bids the will of the Rio Grande in the canyon's deep swallow.


Photo is the property of Randall S. Wireman

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