Cristina Rascón’s pueblo remains

peregrine falcons
rising into the blue . . .
pueblo remains



in Spanish:

halcones peregrinos
se elevan hacia el azul . . .
restos de pueblo

Cristina Rascón (Mexico)
(first published in Spanish in the Mexican journal Taller Igitur as a part of a rengay with Michael Dylan Welch called Bandelier)

Commentary

One of the main reasons I am attracted to this haiku is the focus on the term “pueblo.” The term can refer to both “a North American Indian settlement of the southwestern US, especially one consisting of multistoried adobe houses built by the Pueblo people” and “a member of any of various North American peoples, including the Hopi, occupying pueblo settlements chiefly in New Mexico and Arizona. Their prehistoric period is known as the Anasazi culture” (Oxford dictionary). So, this haiku may be speaking of recent remains or ancient ones.

In the context of the rengay the haiku is in, the content could be directly about the Bandelier National Monument. As Wikipedia says, “The monument preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Puebloans of a later era in the Southwest. Most of the pueblo structures date to two eras, dating between 1150 and 1600 AD.” Also, this haiku is the last link in the rengay, giving it a poignant finality. In each of the links, birds are mentioned. It is a fine choice to end with such a majestic and grand bird as a peregrine falcon. The preceding link by Michael Dylan Welch is:

a canyon wren
in the pinyon pine

The sound of “pine” from Welch’s link and “remains” from Rascón’s link matches well. The “o” sounds in each link also connect superbly. I also like the lift from the ground (pinyon pine) to the sky (into the blue).

This haiku might also be speaking to remains not only of buildings but also of human bones. According to the Kansas Historical Society’s Migration Magazine, “Many Pueblo peoples were forced to become servants in Spanish homes. Sometimes the Spaniards would cut off one foot of young adult males as a way to control them. The Spanish priests tried to convert the Pueblo peoples to Christianity. They pressured the Pueblo Indians by hanging, whipping, or putting them in prison.” I believe this haiku is speaking about the bleak past of these peoples and the rise of peregrine falcons into the blue sky is a symbol of nature reclaiming the lands. There might be an element of forgiveness or acceptance in this imagery.

I imagine the falcons rising from the remains themselves, akin to a lotus rising from the mud. Europeans have stained the history of these peoples, yet they endure. This haiku bravely provides optimism and beauty in the face of tragedy.

Nicholas Klacsanzky

A peregrine falcon is one of the fastest birds in the world. They hunt small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Symbolically, it has connotations with religion and prestige. I can see how this particular bird could be used to highlight dire situations in countries where there is starvation, war, or some kind of destruction.

I see it more from the perspective of war as peregrine falcons might allude to wrongdoings or a societal crisis due to conflicts and rage. “Rising into the blue” gives me a feeling of danger for people who believe in symbolism or have faith in archaic symbolic meanings and may prepare for the worst. But in this situation, it seems nothing has happened as such. The peregrine falcons rising into the blue may indicate the blue sky or a depressive situation where damage has been done. It shows how we as a society don’t give importance to nature’s sentiments.

In addition, I see the historic element in this haiku as the poet may be referring to something that happened in the past or maybe, a kind of folklore or a fable that revolves around the power and influence of falcons. These falcons could metaphorically depict the power of a clan, a tribe, a political party, or activists who use to influence or rein over the village with autocratic power. “Pueblo remains” is used perhaps to show how historical remains provide lessons to focus on what went wrong in the past and learn something from them—especially in the current era where every country is ready to begin a war without considering the destructive aftermath that may linger for many years and affects many generations.

In terms of punctuation, the ellipsis in the second line lets us imagine the tyranny of the political or societal powers that bring depression and destruction.

Hifsa Ashraf

The peregrine falcons rising into the blue could represent the spirits of the Pueblo people who have passed away and have escaped this world. Thus, this haiku could speak of a spiritual transition into the afterlife.

The rhythm of this haiku has a natural pace that is easy to read or say out loud. The “p” sounds start the first and third lines, which seems to add an echo and more gravity in the poem. Visually, the last line is buried beneath the first two lines, which also is a kind of portal into the remains of Pueblo ancestors whose generations span thousands of years. 

According to one website: “The Pueblo Indians, situated in the Southwestern United States, are one of the oldest cultures in the nation. Their name is Spanish for “stone masonry village dweller.” They are believed to be the descendants of three major cultures, including the MogollonHohokam, and Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi), with their history tracing back for some 7,000 years” (Pueblo Indians – Oldest Culture in the U.S. – Legends of America).

The word peregrine has Latin roots, which adds yet another dimension to the historical meaning of this haiku. 
According to nps.gov: “The peregrine falcon is one of nature’s swiftest and most beautiful birds of prey. Its name comes from the Latin word peregrinus, meaning “foreigner” or “traveler.” This impressive bird has long been noted for its speed, grace, and aerial skills. Now, it is also a symbol of America’s recovering threatened and endangered species” (Peregrine Falcon (U.S. National Park Service)).

Thankfully, this symbolism of hope is based on efficient action that was taken to remove the peregrine falcon from the endangered species list in 1999: “Many people are aware of the population declines of this species due to problems with egg-shell thinning caused by persistent organic pollutants such as DDT. Populations of this species were driven to the brink of extinction and the peregrine falcon was federally listed as an endangered species in 1973. Reducing DDT in our environment provided peregrine falcons with a chance to recover and the population in Alaska has grown rapidly from 1980 to the present. The American peregrine falcon was removed from the endangered species list in 1999” (Peregrine Falcon (U.S. National Park Service)).

The ellipsis in this haiku acts as the break or kireji and provides a pause before the third line. For me, the ellipsis adds mystery as to where the peregrine falcons go and where our spirits go after death into the Great Mystery. 

The poet chose to write pueblo in lowercase. Perhaps this signifies how the pueblo people are deeply unified with their environment versus seeing themselves as ‘above’ the Earth or as conquerors. 

An important haiku with deep historical and spiritual meaning. 

Jacob D. Salzer

“Peregrine Falcon I,” painting, watercolor on paper, by Anisha Heble

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2 thoughts on “Cristina Rascón’s pueblo remains

  1. Dear Nicholas Klacsanzky,

    Thank you very much for diving so deeply into the cultures of the Pueblo peoples, and for featuring my avian colleagues, the peregrine falcons, so commendably through the fruitful results of your commentary and the excellent watercolour painting by Anisha Heble, as well as your love of haikus concerning Nature and wildlife.

    We humans are often too absorbed in our own affairs to notice two big elephants in the room: speciesism and anthropocentricism. Both are highly entrenched, and both are very widespread and often unacknowledged forms of prejudice, discrimination and bigotry. Despite years of fleshing out the (conceptual, philosophical, ethical, practical and/or social) framework in examining the possibility or plausibility of environmentalism meeting the needs and expectations of all humanity to help us to survive as a species, fundamental progress is still far too slow.

    In my special post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle Guided Imagery“, I have mentioned stories, mythologies and symbolisms about eagles, whose majestic flights can resonate with the (embodied, corporeal and/or transcendental) Imagery and Impression as well as Being and Feeling of soaring like an eagle, whether symbolically, intellectually, aesthetically or spiritually, including imagining oneself gliding above the city and tree canopies. For your convenience, the link is:

    🦅 SoundEagle Guided Imagery ⋆*ࣰ☀̤̣̈̇🏝*ࣰ˜҈”˜҈░*ࣰණි

    In addition, please turn on your finest speakers or headphones, as the said post will be playing my musical composition to you automatically for about two minutes. Please enjoy!

    The 13th of November is World Kindness Day! Wishing you a productive November and a wonderful week doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, whether intellectually, artistically, physically, spiritually or emotionally!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for expressing your appreciation and insights into the natural world. I agree that we wrongly put ourselves above “animals” though we are simply animals as well. It is important through the arts to glorify and give importance to our fellow creatures. Thank you also for the link. It is a meditative experience.

    Like

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