the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




WORK
BY STEVE BARFIEL

SPANISH WELLS

A ceramic bell announces the vision.
There is a half ruined adobe wall in existential white.
Moving through an open arch and I am at Spanish Wells.
I don't know how I know that
but that is its name.
It is a location somewhere between
reminiscence and deja vu.
Here on the dry bed of an ancient sea
was the sound of a solo flute
and it ever vanishing echo.
In the hand of the wind
it is the shrill of a desert hawk
stooping to a shadow of its past.
At the green ribbons of the blue agave
I can feel the sun on my back.
The desert knows this sun as well
as I know this place.

     My Religion

The Anasazi Elders are gathered in the center of the village.
They are secluded in in a stacked stone enclosure underground
deep in the isolation of a near black kiva.
Above a coyote cousin lifts the edge of the silent blanket
and allows us to pear under.
An entrance ladder lies on the floor
by a pit of smoking embers.
In turn the old men are spitting dark peyote juice
into a wooden bowl.
They are the scholars of timing and light.
To reach the sacred knowledge
they know you have to start with the earth.
A knife blade of illumination pierces the roof
and angles down through the atmosphere.
Mystic blue dust particles float in a narrow shaft of sunlight.
They are like the countless stars of the universe
awaiting an outside influence.
Close to the basket of ritual rattlesnakes
the Shaman are seated in the actual acuity of a clay calendar.
Sequestered fetishes in niches at varying heights
race about this circle of time
questing for cosmic messages.
The truth of the sun is needed
for there is profit in prophecy.
These Indians are blessing the seeds and timing the crops
of squash, bean and dark blue maize.
The rafters remembers the heartbeat drum, the medicine rattle
and the all night chants.
For water balance is sound.
Listen carefully to the river, gully and gourd
all rich with water.
There is the promise of heavy squash blossoms
a continuing bounty that would give a nomad pause.

Now all of this is shambles and skeletons
and an occasional archeologist.
Too late
I was born too late
for my own true religion.