John is a Navaho adopted by Primitive Baptist.
Sometimes he and his mother trade stories.
John talks about
When the Raven became a pine needle and floated on the water.
The daughter of the sky chief drank in the Raven
so that he was born into the sky chief's lodge.
The Raven stole the sun to bring a blessing to his people.
His mother renamed him
after the baptizer who heard a voice from heaven,
touched the son
and saw the Holy Spirit fly like a dove.
She has her own reasons for telling him
about the second birth.
To John, a petroglyph of a hunting party
means as much as Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres.
He faces the direction his ancestors walked
when they followed the water as it flowed away.
The medicine man ground human leg bones
and mixed them with the dust of the trail
so that the dead would rise up and cripple the enemy pursuer.
At night, he relives the feeling of being laid back into a river,
the white baptismal robe floating up like air under his wings.
But when he comes up out of the water
the robes cling to his legs.
Looking for signs this world can not contain,
John thumbs through his mother's Bible.
Underlined from the Revelation,
written when young men saw visions,
There is a white horse, and the rider carries a bow.
* * *
Deborah Quigley Smith has published poems in Melic Review, Long Pond Review, Sequoya Review, and Poetry Miscellany, as well as other print and online journals. She has an English degree from Harding University and currently lives with her husband in Quigley's Castle, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to poetry, Debbie writes international thrillers, one of which was recently selected as a semi-finalist for a national prize. She volunteers in the Community Writing Program, mentoring students on plot and character.