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Fragile

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They didn't know
they didn't have a chance
because it is too easy to break a ceremony.
Ceremonies are fragile.

Jessica was there. She came from the casinos in jeans and a swirling t-shirt and a white man who followed her with his eyes like Mountain Lion. She giggled and pressed herself against Harley and said, "Look, Grandpa, look who followed me home. He wants to hear about the Ceremonial. You can tell him about that, can't you?"

Tayo watched her. He had thought her eyes were hazel, but they looked ice-blue. When she looked at him he recoiled from the emptiness behind.

She moved about the room, east to south to west to north, and glittered with necklaces of sky blue turquoise, with earrings of red coral, and smiled.

 

They let him out. He was invisible/not invisible, and Auntie was there. She took him with her to Mass.

He wondered once where the spotted cattle had gone, where Ts'eh had gone.

 

This time there was no smoke. Only blood-smell and the crunch of bone giving way and jungle-heavy air. The spotted cattle were gone; sometimes he saw them running away behind the white walls and white sheets and grey steel tables, blue sage fading into wax and disinfectant and smug worried voices.

He thought of yellow eyes and hoops and cried because he could not become smoke again, and there were no mountains here.

Whirling
whirling
whirling
whirling
Set into motion now
set into motion

There was no water for the spotted cattle. The mines had poisoned it, poisoned the land and the thorny rose and the blue pollen, and so they left.

The cattle left and the antelope left and the mountain lions left, and then the people left, too, because they had been tricked by ck'o'yo Kaup'a'ta, Gambler, into believing that they too could gamble and win if they just used the lure of blue turquoise and green papers, and they forgot that the land was alive.

So it wasn't.

The people have died out
the tribes have died out
they have forgotten
they do not know the old
ceremonies.
They fear
They fear the world.
They destroy what they fear.
They destroy themselves.

He knew he could get to Emo before Pinkie or Leroy could stop him. They were drunk. Emo's words were thick and slurred. Pinkie had stumbled to his knees beside Leroy, squatting next to the fire.

He visualized the contours of Emo's skull; the GI haircut exposed thin bone at the temples, bone that would flex slightly before it gave way under the thrust of the steel edge.

The wind came suddenly and fanned the coals into yellow flames; Leroy jumped back and stumbled hard against Pinkie. Pinkie pushed him away and Leroy fell.

"You fucking little queer!" Leroy kicked sand in his face and Pinkie lunged at him. Emo stood close to them; the fat under his chin was wrinkled with his grinning. The fire's reflection made two flashing yellow eyes on Emo's glasses. The wind was moving clouds rapidly across the sky, and as they crossed over the moon, darkness and light rolled back and forth like the men wrestling on the groun. The sand their feet kicked loose made a swirling trail in the wind.

The wind made his sweat go cold. This was the time. But his fingers were numb, and he fumbled with the screwdriver as he tried to rub warmth back into his hands.

Harley had helped him last year; he had come and got him moving again.

 

He saw Josiah in the jungle, wet and bloated and dead, and he vomited.

 

He damned the rain until the words were a chant, and he sang it while he crawled through the mud to find the corporal and get him up before the Japanese saw them. He wanted the words to make a cloudless blue sky, pale with a summer sun pressing across wide and empty horizons. The words gathered inside him and gave him strength. He pulled on the corporal's arm; he lifted him to his knees and all the time he could hear his own voice praying against the rain.

The rocks came from up here
up here in these hills
rocks with veins of green and yellow and black.
The pattern is laid
the final pattern is laid across the world with these rocks
and they wait
and they think of
exploding everything.