Ernesto Cardenal - Kaianerekowa


Sept. Oct.
in these months are the migrations.
The tanagers of Ohio
the kingbirds of Oklahoma and Texas come to Nicaragua.
The cormorant comes from Michigan
to Solentiname
here they call him the pato-e-chancho.

Yes, like the planes.
The plane from New York above these solitudes.
Maybe watching a color movie.
THE PERFECT FURLOUGH ***with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh***
above Solentiname.
And flying
in a V
come the Canadian ducks
do they come from Lake Ontario?

In these months
the Nicaraguan sky fills with migrating birds
And the lapwing of the circumpolar region
in the wild inlet, this “jungle”
who could have thought it
has just been in Central Park.
Or at the United Nations?
Deganawida took his canoe over the lakes…
From Niagara Falls to Illinois
the Pax Iroquoia
‘We shall all eat the same beaver from the same plate’
Not only the absence of war
It was no
cold war, the Iroquois peace. They had
the same word for “Peace” and for “Law”
Peace was correct action.
Justice in action.
The practice of justice between individuals and nations.
Peace was good government.

‘This is strength, o Chiefs:
never to anger, to have no discords’
Kaianerekowa (“the Great Peace”)
— Tarachiwagon, the Great Spirit, inspired it.
The League of Nations was called the “Great Peace”
and it was sacred.
The chiefs of the League its priests.
The hatchet buried so deep so deep
‘that no one shall see it again in the future’
But the French gave cannons to the Susquehannocks.
All because of the fur trade…

Deganawida the Huron
who created the New Mind
(his name means ‘Master of Things’)
had visions of a new politics.
Hiawatha the Onondoga.
“He Who Combs”
(because he combed the snakes out of the minds of men)
was the poet.
He invented wampum –shell-writing–
and spun beautiful stories with shells.
Deganawida took his canoe over the lakes
looking for the smoke on the shores
the smoke
of the councils.
Always rowing towards the Aurora.
He crossed Lake Ontario (Sganydaii-yo, “the Great Beautiful Lake”)
and no smoke was rising.
The Iroquois were at war.
Their towns
quiet ringed by palisades.
Kaianerekowa!!! he shouted.

He carried the Mind of the Lord of Life.
The Good News of Peace
for the camps. Say unto the chiefs:
There will be no more war in the towns
the villages will have peace

The peoples must love each other, he said.
A message in the form of the longhouse
where there are many fires
one for each family
and all together are as one single family
so too: a union of nations
each nation with its council fire
and all together will be
a great Ganonsyoni (the Extended House)

And instead of killing, you shall think
said Deganawida.
He came to the nation of the Flint (the Mohawk)
and camped an afternoon alongside the Mohawk river (New York)
he sat beneath a tree and smoked his pipe.
There was founded the League of Nations
alongside the Mohawk River (New York)

One afternoon beside the lake
the poet Hiawatha was saddened.
He collected shells on the coast
and threaded them in three rows to show his sadness.
And lighting his fire said:
“When someone is saddened
“as I am now
“I will console him with these shell strings…
(Deganawida drew close to Hiawatha’s smoke)
“…the sacred rows of shells shall be words
“and these words which are in my hands
“shall be true
He drew near and took up Hiawatha’s shells
and joined them with others
and in this way
the laws of the Great Peace
were made by the 2 of them
the New Laws with shells
each law expressed in a shell row
the Words of the Great Peace
for the Oneidas the Onondagas the Cayugas the Senecas
the lake shells made song
like the lake sings in the night with its shells
and on the reservation, in the night
by the fire, that song
is still sung.
That was a long time ago, the Iroquois say
the creation of that UN
“in the dark of long ago and the abyss of time”
And the cormorant comes from Michigan…
Dusk. The jet over La Venada.
It stayed up in the sky
its trail, chalk streak
long, looooooong
like the island of La Venada.
The lake air-color
and Cosme’s boat as if floating in the air.
“Look how it shines” don Rafael says to me. Don Rafaíl.
Mirror of the Great Spirit!
There they go, there they go, flying in a V
black V V V V V Vs
the Canadian ducks
like squadrons of planes
but they go switching their leader
and planes don’t change formation.
They’ll be coming from Lake Ontario. They’ll return
to Lake Ontario, the V’s point
every so often a new duck, but always
northward like a compass needle
carrying spring!

Deganawida said
in the first speech of those United Nations:
“The Council Fire of the Confederacy of Nations…!
“But the fires of the nations will stay lit
“and that of each clan
“and that of each family and the womens’ fire and the mens’ fire
And the League of Nations was established with songs
delegations circled around the fire
the Mohawk and the Seneca east of the fire
the Oneida and the Cayuga west of the fire
the Onondaga north of the fire
all of them singing the same song together

And on closing the First Session of the United Nations:
“My work is done. I
“will enter the earth. From there
“I will hear how men conduct themselves
“in the Longhouse I gave them.
“If one day the Great peace fails
“If one day it fails
“pronounce my name in the depths of the forest.
“In solitude. And I shall return.
They buried the hatchets the arrows
‘We have cleaned the earth
of these things made by a Bad Mind’
And later, the dream of a greater adventure
the meeting around a fire
of all the nations of the earth
the nations of ‘all the forests of the earth’

A beaver on the plate. With no knife
So that no one can be hurt
so that there will be no spilling of blood
Later, for many years, the hope
that the French would join the League.
‘If you love our souls as you say,
love also our bodies.
We shall all be one single nation.’’
So that their good intentions would show
they gave themselves up unarmed to the French.
With women and children and elders. NOT
as hostages. But
‘to make all the earth one single nation’
and the march towards Quebec –weighed down with shells–
but on the road the Algonquians attacked them.
the French traded with the Huron…
Dialogue with the Huron was blocked.
The treaties with the Huron, annulled forever.

Economic reasons… that fur trade…
Because the Iroquois sad: ‘one single territory
‘Let us make one single people and one single territory’
and the French traded with the Hurons.
The French gave cannons to the Susquehannocks.
We shall stem the flows of the river
And they sent 3 peace canoes to the French.

Those canoes, stood up before the fort
“The earth shall be beautiful –they cried to them
the river will have no waves
we shall live everywhere without fear”
and that night around the fire with the French
around the symbol fire:
‘Our faces shall be stuck to yours
so closely that we too will have beards
and we shall be one single face’
And the Nation of the Thirteen Fires?
Neither did the Nation of the Thirteen Fires
enter into the League. Ah
there went the ah-wek-ah-ah.
It paddled with its wings folded.
When the Indians of the Great Lakes left
it opened its wings and flew
and did not return.

With the wind comes radio, from the island of la Saba.
The la Saba radio. La Saba (La carriba. says don Rafaíl).
Cormorants in a line with their wings open
like old shirts on a wire.
They wet their tails before flying.
Here and on Lake Michigan.
Among the buoys of Lake Michigan.
The lakes had souls, for the Onondaga.
The laws, spoken in wampum. And the treaties in wampum.
They never broke a wampum
although treaty after treaty they lost all their lands.
It gets late. Lake calm. In its soul. And an Onondaga moon.
Sept. 25. first albatrosses, 3, alongside La Venada
flying, skimming the water
Tanagers from Ohio. From Kentucky.
Like Merton’s letter this Tuesday.
And Kennedy Airport so close to Solentiname.
A radio on the island of a Carib Indian woman.
(La Saba brought me oranges)

We shall all eat, from the same plate,
one same beaver.
Soon a bonfire in the forest, shapes spinning
between fire and shadow, and their shadows spinning
da-dun da-dun da-dun, red tattoos
redder now as the fire climbs. ah uuuum.
children too and dogs jumping
young women with shells, with
wampum. Ah uuuuum. The fire goes out.
They went away. And they were never seen again in history.
But after the traffic and neon ads in Syracuse
and passing the highways on the outskirts, motels
gas stations and more neon, HAM & EGGS in the night
behind the big factories, you come to the reservation
a little valley, where that Iroquois said
alongside the old Ford that doesn’t run
‘we will rise up again
and the world will hear us.’

The good News of Peace for the camps
the Good News of Peace (not of the AP)
The dead on Avenida Roosevelt. The AP present
and said nothing
A man leapt into the middle of the street with his arms outspread:
STOP!!! and they shot him down.
A different Somoza will be president.
You told us to call out to you in our solitude.
And I’m here in Solentiname!
Deganawida! Deganawida!

Rumor as if from a portable radio on its way here
no portables come here:
the plane
from the Nation of the 13 Fires…
The flight to Panama.
Our friends aren’t many, and they’re far away.
The news is bad from everywhere.
If you are sad as I am now
I shall console you with my wampum, o my old
With shells. With these keys.
Not teletypes.
And these words in my hands will be true.
It’s the hour of the mosquitoes on Solentiname.
And of the sad bird that sings Jodido.
The last cormorant has gone.
Will the lights be on yet
at the United Nations?

And where are the jets going? Are they going
to Vietnam?