We talk about the creation story of the Maya.
My teacher, his voice falling with the rhythm of his Spanish,
recounts the story.

“The gods made animals first,
But the animals did not have souls.
They tried creating humans of mud,
But they dried, and cracked.
They tried creating humans of wood,
But they could not move.
They tried creating humans of corn flour,
And then it was just right.”

I swear to you, just then, we were on the holy
ground of la Sierra Madre, our souls of maíz,
our muddied skin, precioso.


{The Leaving Behind}

Naivasha, Kenya. February 2017.

I sit watching the marsh plants and the
tree skeletons ‒ there is a
bird now resting on top of one, just
a silhouette (who can imagine its eyes?) ‒
and the white egrets, bright among the greens.

I am listening to the ibis cry loudly,
and the other birds whom I don’t know by name,
and now the bird on the skeleton tree
has flown away.

I am imagining his eyes ‒ wide, I
think, and bright and moving.

And I breathe deep enough that I
feel the very spin of the earth, the inevitable
movement, the passage of time, just an idea.

And as I sit, the world waking up,
I can only think of leaving.

What if I never had to cry goodbye to the
sacred ibis? What if I never had to leave
this bright existence, this bright life?