Four Poems
Christopher Bernard
Bernard Page 1
[Listen to readings of these poems.]

A Dream of the Xavante

I dreamed within the cavern of the world.

My old father smeared my head with wet
so that his power would enter me. There were guards
pounding the ground on their thick legs,
a heavy dancing that made the heavy world
over and over again, like a mortar in a pestle,
crushing meal into bread, their eyes watchful
as spies or wardens,
their heads cocked and lunging.

                                                 I was a child,
strange to adulthood's mysteries, ignorant, wishful,
naked but for cheap shorts, my hair a helmet

of chopped black.
A log was locked to my shoulders, the taste of sweat
was in my mouth and its sting in my eyes
as I hustled across the mudpack
until the tiredness ate my belly, and the souls
of my equals separated in two before me
and my head divided between my treacherous eyes.

My foolish mother came running, her hand
stretched out with a bottle of water,
in pity, thinking to save me from pain and perishing -
as if pain, as if perishing into spirits
might not be the point of all of it -
this scattered world that circles us like the horizon
where we squat in the dust under a naked sky
and stare at a cross stuck in the dirt,
the center plunged like a cane blade in our heart.