--Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest J. McKim Malville and Claudia Putnam
ChacoPenasco Blanco, Chaco Canyon July, 1054 a.d.
Nothing is as it was
all changed now as the land absorbs
the light of this new star burning
Always the heavens have directed us
homes and shrines in accordance
that we not live against the grain
of the cosmos that we become
integral part of pulse and flow
but this new presence shining above
what can it mean?
The people look to us but no priest
can explain. Concerned faces in the village
quiet confusion in kivas
fire messages blaze nightly and
runners run the roads.
into my back I lie
on this ledge with my paints
record mysteries of the sky.
Below, the wash all appears
as it was but the
bright light brings wonder brings fear
will the rains continue to love
Sun, I paint
moon in crescent, fiery star
my palm into pigment pressed
against rock acknowledgment
Nothing is as it was.
--© Paul Young, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico 1992 re-vision 1996
Reprinted with permission; originally published in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. Paul Young is a poet, brewer, and house remodeler. His poetry has appeared in The Gentle Survivalist, Native West Press, and other publications.