Soul Of The Earth
NDIXITO: FROM THE LIFE OF MARIA SABINA
Ndixito in Mazatec means “Little-Ones-That-Spring-Forth” and refers to the mushrooms that the Mexican curandara Maria Sabina used to heal people, her first miracle being her own sister.
We pop up in the rainy season
in highland pastures, on steep slopes
where the earth is red and alive;
a fist full of thunder, we erupt
out of dung heaps, sugar cane
husks, out of rotten tree trunks
where we perch, pajaritos, little birds,
out of a misty hillock, a landslide.
We find Maria in a green-black wood.
Cold and starved, she tends
six white chickens scratching,
scratching in the rain-drizzled dirt.
Ravenous she tears us up,
this Wise One, still a child:
“If I eat you, you and you,
you’ll make me sing beautifully.”
Her sister, no adult can cure;
Maria Sabina remembers us, gives 3 of us
to Maria Ana, eats many herself—
soil clinging to our bitter roots.
Pressing pain from her sister’s hips,
she sings what we tell her—of the morning star,
the earth, its plants and humming birds—
takes up her staff of sap and dew.
We spring up. Nobody plants us.
We spring up by ourselves, the flesh,
the voice of Gods some say. We say
little clowns wearing our copper caps.
Tear and eat us up. But if you
drop a piece, one of us will ask,
while working: “Where are my feet?
Why didn’t you eat all of me up?”
We give the Wise One visions:
a troupe of jugglers and tumblers,
little duendes squatting in the dust,
we dress up as town officials.
Six or seven magistrates seated at table,
we rustle through piles of papers,
table solemn as the Last Supper,
bearing all the things of the world.
One of us, bald-headed Sasa,
like a sweet, commanding father,
calls forth our book of wisdom,
pulsating threads of light,
twisting up from the ground. Our book,
its leafy pages bound in white bark,
grows to the size of a snake, a woman,
a white tree, this Book of the Earth.
She lovingly caresses our book,
hands passing right through it,
each syllable, each jot of light
swelling up from the warm dark.
Curved lines, triangles, jagged
shapes, we cone-heads, disguised
as little geometric beings,
hop giggling across its pages.
Then Durrembe, our finest tumbler,
comes falling like a thunder bolt,
a luminous, blinding object,
head-first through a hole in her hut.
Its blue-green strands of light
branch upwards into a black sky,
a dewy bush covered with
every imaginable flower.
Doffing our caps to please the crowd,
we dance on thin, bare legs.
Plucking violins, thrumming our guitarrón,
we make her body hum and twirl.
Small brown feet appear, disappear
under the hem of her whirling skirt--
Dew woman, Tree woman,
Great Lord Clown Woman.
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