Friday, March 14, 2014

Black Islands Continued (3)

Father Martin de Munilla at Espiritu Santo: 1606 

We sailed into a great bay a small river
between the headlands four months fourteen days
from Peru dense forest wilderness hills rise
St Phillips St James Quirós names the bay
in the new unknown comfort of old names
a supposed continent becomes Austrialia
Del Espiritu Santo if it be
island or Main may be beyond measure
future plains beyond forests misty green
as babes wishes we hold them to our breasts
feed them milk of holy names history 
we convince ourselves will see us well blessed
discoverers of dreams reality sees
black heathen feathered spears angry bees
shouting darting briefly shadows trees

Dark dashes out stabbing red topped sticks
in the sand boats answer with harquebus
aimed high echoing silence rules the beach
smoke from the hillside seems to invite us
homesick for the peasant farms of homeland
what we find becomes far from domestic
the sounds we followed shouts chants sticks rattled  
might have been the best of Satan's hectic
jeers blindly our sturdy harquebus fires
high in trees until a deserted village
after months of salt-beef baskets of yams
pigs tethered in a row I granted pillage
it was not fit that Spanish should not eat
while the savages feasted on yams fresh meat
we taste fruits while yams pork flavor the heat


A month much health restored I bless the gifts
of food God's nature yields natives untouched
left nought but to hunt fish our course now shifts
south to explore on a stormy Thursday
yams smoked-pork coconuts stored we weigh
our anchors are more blown than sailed away


Those colorless men who paddled backward
second eyes beneath the strange leaves covering
their heads these pale men whose spears barked and smoked
are gone so our men dance the women sing
men too young chant and drum so we all come
alive again those who lead are men who
have twice payed with circle pig tusks who are men
so high when they dance the trees will dance too
trees lean and sway fire rises to light the sky
while they dance the night away we rock clap
sing as drums come into us our hearts drum
we are alive again free from the wrap
colorless men bound around our world the fear
we'd never felt before the cobweb ghost circling
the ring is ours the hunter's heart beats
we feel too as they stiffly stalk and spring
throw their dream spears so when black hawk sweeps in
arms spread wide we rise to greet the morning

             Friar Maleo de Vascones
Four months after Espiritu Santo
Friar Munilla sickened died at mid-night
ides of October sixteen-hundred-six
like bundled dry sticks dropped out of our sight
those eighty-year old bones lightly slipped sailcloth
to sink the banner of St Francis his shroud
for epitaph he'd written He chose the path
the fate of his voyage he wondered aloud
not knowing was new land he blessed country
or island nor do I half prayer half dream he
walks there now his dreamed fertile field valley
gentle breeze our world his revery

              Continental Drift

Not easy to get the drift of continents
it's no surprise his prize escaped the last
persistent conquistador turned explorer
the fabled southern continent however vast
it might drift many million years miles so well
it might be as fabled as was dreamed indeed free
to drift in confusion those years before
Quirós set sail we shouldn't assign blame he
nor Torres wouldn't know land could be there here
move around so time enough time to spare
for pieces of Pacifica to reappear
among the Aleutians or to flair
in the Andes the rest furtive as a kiss
despite its dimensions easy to miss

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