Enter the other world:
It is impossible for me to convey the intricacies of this ceremony,
Staying up to support
Their entry into the other world.
Children asleep in sleeping bags:
An incongruous juxtaposition to the Pahkola,
The old men of the fiesta,
Who don their masks,
Legs, wrapped in cocoon shells rattling,
Eddies of dust kick from their feet in
This ancient, ancient ceremony,
Dance and calling,
Of the Yaqui, real name Yoemem.
What did I experience then?
The tiredness, the cold,
Entering Spirit through them.
Where does this dancer go?
Eyes covered, sunk low to the ground,
He embodies Deer.
No, he is Deer, running in his own mind,
In another world,
Not the one I see before me,
But it is real sure enough,
Rasping sticks, the sound of Deer's antlers,
Rubbing the talking tree in the spirit world.
The smell of the cottonwood, smoke of the fire,
Keeps us warm in the night,
And the embers are taken to those asleep on the ground,
Resting, waiting their turn again.
Domingo de Ramos,
They have been preparing for weeks.
o easy spirituality this,
No quick fix religion.
Why do I even try to convey it?
The procession from the church, the palms,
Women holding vigil,
Singing throughout the night.
The sun rises, illuminating the marching,
Reminding us we are human, only human.
Dust swirls as they march,
The haunting air of the flute,
Occasional beat of the drum.
Shimmy of rattle–belts snaking down the line.
The flags and the unmasked sword carriers too,
Each has their place,
Each has their time.
Maso bwikam — Deer songs:
Ala ini kun maiso yoleme,
Now, here comes the Deer,
Brother to the Yaqui,
Since the beginning of creation,
Hunu kun maiso yoleme,
There are many ways to enter the other world,
The night before Palm Sunday,
I entered on the hooves of the Deer,
Ini kun maiso yoleme.
Hay muchos vezes a tránsito al entre,
La noite antes Domingo de Ramos,
He viajado en las pezuñas del ciervo,
And then I ran.
About the Author: Howard Gayton is a writer, performer, and theatre director based in Devon, England. He is the co–founder and artistic director of Ophaboom, a theatre company specializing in Commedia dell’Arte.
"Balance of the World Part II," written in Arizona, was inspired by the Yaqui deer dance and Easter ceremony. For "Balance of the World Part I," go here.
The poem originally appeared in To the Desert by Howard Gayton, with art by photographer Stu Jenks (Trix Press, 2006). It may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.