Guest poem sent in by Rohit Grover
(Poem #204) The Vision of a Giant who Migrated from Baja to Tiburon Island
Slender whirlwinds coming from the sky touch the land. Sounds of arrows striking the ground roaring raising dust clouds. He shouts, warning of the days of danger. I stand on the peak of Red Mountain. He comes toward me shouting. My heart is a stone. I shout, I declare it.
This is the song of a shaman of the Seri, an Native American tribe that made its home at the edge of the desert and the sea in south-western United States (where I am right now, in Tucson, Arizona). I like the imagery of the first few lines, though the import of the last few is a mystery to me. About the Seri The Seri believed that the world started as an ocean. Haant-Caai - the creator - shaped land with the help of a Giant Turtle and placed a man, woman and a horse on the earth - these were the Giants who died in the great flood and became boojum tree, barrel cactii and other plants. Haant-Caai tested the ability of the Giants by placing a man on a horse, off which he promptly fell. When the man was placed on a balsa (Seri boat), he rowed into the sea and harpooned a sea-turtle. The Seri conclude from this that man was not meant to till the land and was meant to live off the sea. It is not known if they believe themselves descendents of the Giants, however, they occupy an important place in their folklore. Turtles play an important part in the folk culture. The following is the Turtle Song as sung by on Robert Harrera: Turtle Song ------------ The phosphorescence of the sea The phosphorescence passes over my body It is gray on me The sea covers me The turtles that accompany me they come slowly toward me (from Paths and Lives, an exhibit at the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, Tucson)