For good or ill, they left their mark.
Rich in their vow of poverty;
at least by local standards.
They had their cigars and their chocolate.
They had their music and their books.
They had their Faith.
They had untold riches
in willing backs and upturned faces.
Stone on stone. Wooden crosses.
Beams and candles. Silver chalice.
True, the graveyard was filling up
but there was work to be done.
They were here on a mission;
called by the Assisian of long ago.
Soul upon soul. Tally and count.
Blessed waters all poured out.
Carry your burden. Stone upon stone.
Eyes lifted to heaven. Recall your lessons.
Soul upon soul. No room for doubt.
Where friars go, others follow.
Scores were settled by Godly force.
The “Holy Office” — an instrument of peace
in the wild lands west of the Pecos,
in this province of sand and salt.
Women tending the graveyards,
upturned faces looked away. The cost was high.
The flesh was less willing, the spirit weak.
Some days the raiders came.
Voices raised – a stone thrown in anger.
An arrow. The fields are on fire.
The burden was there but with few willing backs.
Brother, tell us again about Heaven.
Over the pass, it was a long slow walk.
First one mission and then another
left crumbling in the sun.
Stone upon stone. Soul upon soul.
A vow of poverty is for living,
not dying in the sand and salt.
So brothers, pick up the pace!
There will be other missions, but not here.
* * *
Enchanted, More or Less — 2017