Puhahabitu

This poem was originally published in the spring 2014 edition of Concho River Review.

Puhahabitu*

The People knew about the truth
In ways we only vaguely see;
No man can point it out to us
No priest retains the needed keys.
Its power dwells where each believes
That truth resides; to reach its strength
There’s nothing you can really do:
The more you strive to grasp at truth
The further truth will move from you.

The People said you must lie down for power,
You pick a place where someone blessed with truth
Has spent much time, or even died, and there
You wait. And pray or meditate. And wait.
In silence contemplate while opening yourself.
And then, not God—some local source of power
May choose to pity you and gift you with a truth
That’s tailored to your needs, with special songs to sing,
Or other amulets to help you wield
The mighty tool for living well you’ve gained.

Perhaps you won’t be answered.
Perhaps you’ll die of hunger.
Perhaps you’ll choose a sterile site
Where charlatans have seemed to draw
A power that was only feigned.
But if it is truth you would have—
Real power, truth, or “medicine”
(As puha is so sadly called)—
You must lie down for yours,
And stop trying to steal ours.

*”Lying down for power.” Erroneously termed the “Comanche Vision Quest” elsewhere.

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