THE LEAST AMONG THEM
By Rolf Goerke
Jesusita tells the Moon, “Grandfather Benito said the words are not important, but rather telling them to You, to someone who listens to where the words come from, and who more than anything—cares.”
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An American lawyer embarks on a Grail-like quest to rediscover the ancient human psyche he senses has been suppressed by the processes of civilization, his journey taking him first to the desert sands along the Rio Grande, then to the remote, rugged canyons of the Tarahumara, and finally to Jesusita, a barefoot Tarahumara goatherd who is loca. Nudging Lucas along on his path are a precocious eleven year old girl, a mentally-ill woman attached to a long rope, and a extraordinarily vibrant old witch—as well as the wandering spirit of an Aztec Earth Goddess.
The desert, with its thorns and wild creatures and bright-starred night sky, teaches him: How presumptuous of modern human beings to believe that their role in the world is in any way different from that of these javelina, that using symbolic language, and having constructed great cities, and what they call meaning, places them in another and higher plane of existence. Connecting deeply to the stars, or to people or to anything, ultimately has to do with connecting to silent, invisible energies.
Jesusita, who was poisoned with a peyote-like cactus by an envious neighbor and is now seen by the other Tarahumara as the least among them, presses a tortilla to her face to hide from Lucas. In spite of which she and Lucas connect in an astonishing way, which has the power to heal them both, and also others. As might a long gentle rain falling upon a wasteland.
Rolf Goerke lives with his Tarahumara wife and her people in Mexico’s Copper Canyon. He has taught literary translation at the University Autónoma de Chihuahua. For many years he worked as a back country ranger in the River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, and also as an Outward Bound instructor.
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