Summary of “Masada’s Tears of Gold”

The Tepehuans are an indigenous people that live in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Durango and

neighboring Mexican states. They are famous for their hardiness and their long-distance running.

When I was living in Mexico, I ran across an interesting Tepehuan creation legend and wrote a narrative poem on the subject. The title of the poem is “Masada’s Tears of Gold.” It has been published in a collection of my poems entitled “All Stops Out.”

The legend begins at a time when the earth was barren. Sahuatoba, the first man, came into being when a star was impregnated with a flash of lightning. Another flash of lightning produced a lily, which became a girl when Sahuatoba picked it. The girl, called Masada, became the wife of Sahuatoba.

This primeval couple enjoyed eternal youth. They had seven sons, seven daughters, and eventually a great multitude of descendants. Sahuatoba became the god of his numerous progeny and taught them many useful things, such as the cultivation of the soil.

One day, when Sahuatoba left home to offer his people useful instruction, the lightning-god visited Masada and tried to seduce her. When Masada rejected his advances, the lightning-god angrily changed her into a star and set her in the heavens.

When Sahuatoba returned to his empty dwelling, he began an unending search for his beloved wife.

In my poem, I adhered closely to the legend, except that I added a significant detail. I pictured Masada as sadly watching Sahuatoba from above and showering him with tears of gold. The golden tears are, of course, the rays of light with which the star bathes Sahuatoba.

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