JOJOPAN

 

Walking early morning light.

Bunchgrass tufts still wet with dew.

Mist lurking off the cliffs.

I find shell mounds beside the footpath.

 

A midden vein of crumbling bone

exposed. Cut into. This is all

that's left of Jojopan.

Open wounds

on the south bank bluffs

of the Big Sur River.

 

Sargenta Ruc

the Rumsens called it,

lost village of the Esselen.

A people gone like grizzly.

 

Mysterious ones. Shamans

who carved their secrets into rock

along Church Creek. Who painted red

& black mosaics. Sun discs. Winged gods

who flew across the sandstone.

 

In a cave near Tassajara

a wall of hands. A cloud of white

prints dancing on stone

hints at some forgotten rite.

Solstice. Moonlight. Initiates

pressing skin against rock

& the rock remembering.

 

Here above the river beach. Deserted

bluffs. Scavenger gulls wailing in the wind.

I kneel beside whitened clams.

Ash-black soil sprinkled with musselshell.

 

Upstream past a grove of eucalyptus

I can see the old adobe of the English

sea captain who married his señorita

& homesteaded a Mexican land grant

in the delta terrace of the Rio Grande Sur.

New shingles gleam in the sunlight.

Roof & walls carefully restored:

"an historical site worth saving..."

 

The land around it also saved. Protected.

Fenced in. The signs say

Molera State Park

named for a wealthy dairy rancher

famous for his parties and jack cheese.

 

Beyond the adobe

there at the feet of the Santa Lucias

I can see Hwy. One as it swings east

slicing through the Esselen homeland,

its paved serpentine crowded

with scenic landmarks & historical markers

with parking lots full of sports cars & Coupe de Villes

with private healing spas & off-limit hot springs

with rustic cafes serving Big Sur burgers

with bookstore fishnets sporting their spring catch of pulp

with roadside stands of redwood burl table tops going cheap

with acres of Ticketron campsites booked solid

with landscape galleries framing the impossible

with gas stations pumping dinosaur oil

with smokeybear rangers landing in whirlybirds

with retired dentists from Pasadena wheeling by in their

Winnebagos

 

& not a thing to tell you that

effehi

a people lived here

kiskit na mismap

thousands of years

pacima kenatsu

weaving nets

kespam nenipuk

chanting songs

iyu iyu

dancing

the language of dreams.

 

Malitahpa.

Malitahpa.

Malitahpa.

There is nothing.

Nothing.

The writer is Art Goodtimes - a member of the Board of Commissioners, San

Miguel County, Colorado. His family came to Santa Cruz in 1795.

 

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