- When Cortez Came
Cortez in Hispanola. Cortez in Santa Domingo. Cortez in Peru. Every night there arose a sign like an antler of fire. Many fled in canoes, crashing and sinking into each other in their haste. Every night was heard the jaguar of a woman weeping. The waters of the lake boiled up crackling. A comet appeared, bursting into three heads. Men were fighting. They rode on the backs of deer. A brown crane with a breast like a mirror showed Montezuma what was becoming. A brown crane ushered in the thistle people, single-bodied, two heads. Before his horror and his fear, they vanished, little purple smoke of what was becoming. It pierced the trees of heaven to their very core. I like the parts about the deer and the crane. “Thistle people” is a pretty way to say it. [End Page 107]
Kathryn Nuernberger is the author of Rag and Bone (Elixir P). She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Central Missouri, where she also serves as poetry editor for Pleiades. Recent poems appear in West Branch, 32 Poems, the Journal, and Verse Daily.