Wednesday, November 30, 2005

33. The Makers Of Rain - David Wagoner

We sit at the top of the Pyramid of the Magician
Our last day in Uxmal, afraid
Of the sheer steps and the ranks of the rain gods,
The rows of Chacmuls in stone with their high-flung, fanfaring noses.
Having guided ourselves this far, we look
At the ruined ball court and, beyond, the iguanas basking
In the cracked fretwork of the Palace of the Governor,
The stone jaguars mating in the plaza
By the broken phallus, and, with its jammed perspective, the quadrangle
Where four classes of priests took charge of the rain.

Not even the Governors were allowed this high to lord it
Over the land from the mouth of the temple
Whose intricate facade is a Chacmul’s face
Behind our backs. Not daring to ask for a change in the deep sky,
We wait for our lives to topple
Like the rest, though our hands hold us together, balancing
Our love against the weight of evidence
That has caved in one whole side of this pyramid.

We are masters of nothing we survey,
But what the Magician did from here—chant with his arms outstretched
Over a dying city or reach halfway to the clouds sailing aloof
Over the maize fields—is ours to try, since we believe in magic,
Believe we can climb to it slowly, being frightened,
That it can break suddenly out of stone or out of the dry air.
As priest and priestess of ourselves, before praying for rain,
We weep to show it how.