Huitzilopochtli! God of the sun and war, Soul-speaker, Ruler of Destinies, Voice of the Echoes, speak lines of wisdom from disjointed time, calendars dismembered in the center of night as monuments to impatience and fear. Speak! Deliver words to my skull in silent explosions illuminating the black blindness binding my eyes with eyelids carved from stone. Make me a gardener of epitaphs, a word-worker willing to clear the weeds from mangled language and deliver thy words as thy brother Tlaloc delivers rain to the fields in exchange for the flesh of Toltec children.
From the distant night the gliding rustle of feathers sweeps across the darkness, footless footsteps along paths invented by memory and erased from thought by the burning sun of morning, casting scalding rays across the subsoil of mirage. A vision penetrates through the shifting shadows, making shape out of syllables, taking root from the inky roots of recorded dreams, growing into a redintegration of redemptory radiant images where language recants the idleness of hours moving on wind and air, Toltec images from an Aztec dream. The hour becomes a crystal ball from whose depths glows leaping sinuous golden flames from a sigil silver rose. From the ashes of the roots of the rose grows a multifloriated foliage of destinies:
Montezuma soaked in blood,
Xiutecutl, the Burning God,
Tlaloc, the Rain God,
Angry Tezcatlipoca of the Smoking Mirror.
Tezcatlipoca! He of the merriment and sorcery, of destruction and hate, of discord and prosperity, trickster, foul abomination who gave life only to demand sacrifices and death to sustain him, bloodlicker of the ancient sacrificial stones, belcher of noxious clouds from putrifying flesh, the demon who feasts on youthful purity, of him, I speak, the Vile One who poured a cup of pulque for gentle Quetzalcoatl, dweller within the shadowlands, and his little sister, driving them into the throes of ecstasy, incestuous pleasures, despoiling virginity and the Feathered Serpent's serenity with a cup of maguey poison, creating lust and desire until Quetzalcoatl, sick at heart with sibling sin, commanded a funeral pyre built and surrendered himself to the penance of the flames, rising to the heavens in a great flock of birds, his heart gleaming strongly in the morning sky.
Of this double-forked rage, I speak, my words chaining Tezcatlipoca onto a dungheap, pronouncing his name then spitting to keep the word from poisoning my mouth, weaving spells with ancient words to protect against the black magic of Tezcatlipoca. But, I am helpless, the spells only gestures and wishes, drops of water in a putrefied lake. I am helpless, my words black, pensive prose, transparent in their meaninglessness, a draft of shadows leaping at the edge of thought.
Tezcatlipoca, the CHili-Picker, seducer of the daughter of Quetzalcoatl, teased the celebrants of their wedding feast into song and dance to the steady beat of the drum. Like dreamers, they danced the frenzied dance of debauchees, faster and faster, their feet pounding the earth, following the wily Chili-Picker in intricate rhythms to their destiny as stones in the valley below.
Tezcatlipoca, the Gardener, who killed hundreds in Quetzalcoatl's flower garden, took grim satisfaction in burying the world beneath chimerical flame until Quetzalcoatl, weary of Tezcatlipoca's many vindictive pranks, fired the city he had built, burning dreams, buried the treasure of his offerings, becoming poor, changed cacao trees into worthless cacti, creating hunger, ordered gaily-colored birds to drabness, destroying beauty, before vanishing alone across the azure sea, disappearing among the Nahuatl-speaking waves with a cross of flint and keys of blood, burying memory in a puddle of foul ditch water, a muddy mirror casting upward to the heavens the reflection of lost and bewildered man. This mirror is Stoic, but man is not. Across the Sierra Madres, the sun is hot upon the puddles, evaporating water, creating sinterated adobe, a metaphor for man? Perhaps a metamorphosis from earth to man, a mental crystallization, a chrysallis without substance, a limited expansion into life, a brotherhood linked by vow from god to near-god, a mingling of passions creating life from a dough of mud and sun. Phantoms created by thought and desire? Bare virgins rising higher and higher through a sky of liquid lapis lazuli, brown legs flashing, turning in lazy gyres, brown breasts casting shadows over the plains?
A lamlp shines in the stillness of the night, and the ghosts of grandfathers march ponderously through the pitchblend night, penetrating silence, bodiless time sensed in hours when architects built moatless castles over the chartless depths of an unknown abyss where lie the bones of peasants who for one brief flicker of time ruled a pale nation wrapped in a blood-soaked mantle. A phantom gallops a dark horse across the backwaters of refracted time. Men gaze into mirrors and see the people of wind, time, and incantations against afflictions, remembering ancient promises when men drank the sun and ate time in green limes and passion in plump grapes that burst with the purple wine-blood of the land.
A man stands on the lonely shore gazing westward, waiting, waiting for when word again becomes spirit and spirit flesh and flesh of the first flesh. In the distance, a gobbet of sail moves against the blue, a dot of white infinite against the blue. Flashes of flame dance against the blue while a flock of birds prance upward, spiraling higher and higher in lazy circles, their cries purging language as history consumes itself in a delirium of remembered promises. In the cool darkness of the ground ripens the vegetation of buried flowers, deeply scented, a subverted paradise in a confluence of time. In reverence, we give it name: Rider of the Silences. In awe, we watch joy ascending with an emotion that almost alarms us as we remember a joyful thing felled despite our frantic paeans to silent angels who stared with accusing eyes at the ashes beneath our feet from a funeral fire that scorched the ancient dialogue of creation and melted the bronze fist of time tightly clenched with man's first arrogant crime, burying beneath a mountain of stones mirrored creation, our ancestors' bones.
Thus, we remember you, Huitciloppochtli of the Sun, as we open day's doors and enter the unknown passage of mirrors where light reflects time reflecting light from a burning Joshua tree quivering in the night.
The First Elegy
We built a sanctuary, then, taking comfort in the other's presence, but we built that sanctuary upon loneliness, and our refuge grew behind a wall of bitterness that soon turned upon us, and we blamed each other for coming to a place where we lived in cramped spaces and wore frightened faces as we trudged up and down steaming concrete walks, searching for the promised opportunity that seemed to belong to others who understood the drowning of innocence, the creation of chaos through which a rough beast ponderously moved, blank eyes staring fixedly at the barren horizon.
This, then, is the terror that frowning angels sing who wish to warn us against our presumptions. We believed in words and people, but our belief was built on false promises which stayed with us, eating our souls like cancer gnawing the livers of healthy men chained to the rocks of daily habit that calm us and destroy us. Do you understand?
We sought a world for ourselves, building dreams from a night with delicate hours that wrapped our hopes in glittering tinsel like stars poised high and still. But a hot, arid wind blew across our narrow world, eroding our features, settling over our faces bitter masks because the seeds we hoped to plant fell upon stones. But from stones we came, and to go back is to return to those stones stained by the blood of our fathers. The scorn that we feel violates the paradise we sought and this cannot be. I will it not to be!
Fling the emptiness out from your spirit! Breathe! Feel the flight of birds within your soul! The springtime needs you! Stars demand you sense them!
At night, from the top of the Franklins I look south across the pass to the Sierra Madres, the Craggy Mother. The blue lights of Mexico flicker between the hollow of her breasts where the placid Rio runs, racing its lazy course to the sea. Around me, silence reigns, a magic web woven from a skein of silence. I want to pull that silence around me and create a chrysalis where I can live within my heart and soul, alone in time.
Solitude is a time elixir but a potion for only one. Two who sip from its melancholy cup drink the diseased wine of doubt and misery pressed from the fruit of Rappaccini's garden where not even the cry of the lonely mourning dove is heard and nightingales refuse to nest within the thorny bushes. Here, angles blindly clasp space and gaze into themselves. Here, light becomes a figment of imagination and despair. Here, a raw wind scorches our communal soul. Here, a wasteland filled with shifting sands stretches from time to Cortez, from blood to ashes.
The Second Elegy
In the mirror, a child of the world gazes back from reflected depths, refracted lines creating a blossoming deity drawing its countenance back upon itself time and time again.
Do angels think of themselves? Do they stare into timeless reflections and pretend little gods stare back? Do the lonely pretend narcissistic lovers caress them with eyes aware of their secrets and take lonely pleasure from self-embrace?
Inside the reflection, lips move ceaselessly in cadence with mine, creating time, murmuring lip-to-lip, half in shame, half in ecstasy, seeking an existence of love as an ineffable hope.
But the rhythms are the breaths of one in well-remembered bliss that does not vanish when the night turns to day as lovers exchange final kisses and secretly steal away, leaving one to wonder longingly at the window, remembering the walks through the garden with a lover when they shared intoxicating sips of heady scents, the dusty pollen of blossoming deity, the soft rains upon the garden ferns, the roses drawing bees to their long-stemmed beauty. Strange, how one is willing to elude this act when bright sun dispells night's sweet slumbers.
Perhaps it is not my own lips I remember in the mirror, but the memory of other lips recalling shadowy figures and places from vintage years past. Perhaps. But thoughts such as these do not last for time is not transcended by thought but remains carved in the flesh, rough ridges ungentled by desire, empty embraces forever lost in black fire.
The Third Elegy
This is an old country born from old loins. Mountains of aged intellect race its length. Old men remember thought and withered loins move in wispy memory filled with passionate intensity. In the sands of the desert, the men are no more the men of their dreams. Cold dawn lurks eternally in their veins, a Toltec twilight freezing passion in dropping darkness like shawls draped over the broad shoulders of peasant women patiently waiting the slouching return of their lovers.
In the still of the night, I hear the pulse-beat of a surging chaos washing form from thought, mercilessly moving nearer to its origin. I will discovery among the dark acquaintances that took his place when he fled familiarity, taking refuge among the crypts and tombstones standing like limestone stepping stones among the mesquite and creosote bushes, a giant causeway for silent feet of restless bodies yearning to return and lead ghostly legions in yet another revolution.
Here, the dreamers dream forgotten dreams in eternal sleep, silent ghosts wandering among bloodless slabs of stone while specters persistent in oblivion seek the invisible corridors marking the crack in time through which invisible armies may march.
But I do not hear their ghostly tread. Instead, I hear the screams in the night pregnant with blood and milk, screams of drunken girls burned to carbon shadows from the friction of calloused hands stroking their soft, fleshy breasts like mauled rubber, their mouths gnawed to tattered strips of flesh, legs permanently bowed from clasping the waists of their lovers. Behind their ears grow fading gardenias, funereal wreaths that draw men from cantinas to play naked games with in stale cribs, trying to lift holiness from ugliness, joining flesh to flesh in a false dream of goodness that becomes a suffocating waste.
Here, a naked sorrow enters the world and a blackened dawn plunges hope into rage, and the men and women die a little more as they rage, rage against the dying night, laughing laughs like songs from stringless guitars.
Across the river, the blue lights of Mexico gleam like sad firefles flickering in the night, tiny spotlights of forced laughter and gaiety where bandanaed bandits with bootlegged booze running through their veins and fever in their brains pretend to steal virginity from shop-worn whores grateful for their time and for their crime.
This is a creation born from a holy creation; an unholy merging of spirits patrolling the streets of night, searching for innocence, for Dolores, for she is the altar, the goddess, the body of the offering torn repeatedly by the flashing knives of grim reapers who have flayed all flesh from her stark bones, leaving nothing for others but sand and stones.
The Fourth Elegy
The land is forgotten. Hostility becomes only second nature, an indifference to hunger and want, tattered garments the mark of laziness and not the price paid by the pobres for the realization of their ambitions. Those who live in tattered garments live in a patchwork of movements and moments that create painful ours. They do not know the differences between fading and flowering roses for roses do not grow in the contours of their feelings. A curtain has fallen over their hearts, drawing the scene to a close. They wander across the empty stage in abysmal solitude, searching vainly for the act they vaguely remember from past glories. With loathing, they avoid the common masks created, the pretense of originality, the emptiness of pretending reality in a forbidding silence marked by the babble and come and go of voices dying and in dying seeking the last words from past prophets lost among the shifting sands of desert and time.
It is not for all to play the part of Villa and Zapata or, like Hidalgo, utter the cry of Dolores. For some must die before the play begins and not strut upon the stage in guises of Hamlet or Macbeth and hear the applause of the crowds. Others must play the Fool, still others must be spear-carriers, content to remain soundless in a play filled with madness. Others try to squeeze the universe into a scene with themselves as a tragic hero, but can only manage to create the role of Polonius, Rosencrantz, or Guildenstern. There are no Lears here, or Gertrudes or Regans or Gonerils, only Juans and Juanitas who are old the day they are born.
The childhood hours when futures are planned have become singular moments of solitude. Death is known before life has begun for the young can see their future in the empty eyes of the borrachos lounging dull-eyed against Judas gates with half-moons and dog stars painted on them and rusting lampposts, the trulls standing cock-hipped against red cantina doors while inside, their sisters dance endless intermezzos between the acts, naked brown bodies turning lithely in steps of fire, creating postlapsarian states in the loins of men seeking the secrets of Mexico, a comédie larmoyante of titivated passion perverted in its many acts of automated goatish rutting.
Childhood hours are more in the past than the future for the child is old when born into solitude, his fate created by the lusting loins of his parents seeking one frantic, isolated moment of pleasure in the tragedy created for them by their forebearers who coupled in barn lofts with the padrinos, continuing the saga through four hundred years of solitude begun by the conquistidores of Cortés eyeing dusky Toltec maidens with wild surmise, a cycle of progression, a continuous play with Death the strolling player of this mummery.
The Fifth Elegy
Past philosophers claim that all is nature's accord, that nothing evil may spring from nature, that evil is man's doings and not the gods. But what then makes a desert a wasteland, and what soul transmogrifies itself to turn strong men into jesters and jesters to hollow men walking blank-eyed through the emptiness? Time is a reality only because of its length, of its compressing days into weeks, months, and years. It takes its composition from the soul—a spinning gyre spiralling endlessly downward to merge with the dust from which it sprang in a surge of dreams and vanity. The land and soul coming fast together, a posthumous forgetting, blooming briefly, then shedding withered petals like dying roses and withered lemon trees rendered infertile from cross-breeding and inbreeding through centuries of complaisant couplings with conquistadores who have existed like vampires through the centuries since Cortéz, masking identities with different faces and different skins, lycanthropic changlings to change souls into tumors upon the universe, disconnected, a rebellion against Nature that holds and embraces all other natures, a stricken sorrow like a grave plaything falling and rebounding upon the grave.
Children born here fall like unripened fruit each day from barren trees. Sleek thighs whisper glistening secrets, but the words are indistinct, and young, tight breasts bound in flaming red silk molding them into metallic pomegranates lay like cold market fruits for public fondling.
The soul becomes an abomination unto itself, turning away from man, opposing him, flickering like a wounded bird violating itself as it attempts to follow lawful constitutions written long ago with the blood of martyrs. The words are now dried and caked like scabs upon brittle parchment easily crumbled and thrown to the winds upon the whim of those who wind and coil the unquiet ways of tyranny like cheap ribbons binding reality into nightmares of ignorance and want, rebounding and falling upon the graves of martyrs.
Sometimes in passing, a loving look flutters across a brown face like the dusty wings of angels, but the look is momentary and the thought an instant memory already half-forgotten before being fully formed, rewriting thought before thought is written, riding the wind on a black stallion beneath a giant moon. Though the roads are familiar, one will never cross the dusty plains, the Mountains of the Mother, to the garden where the lemon tree flowers.
The Sixth Elegy
Like you, we begin displaying our hopes, our ambitions in blushing blooms that all too swiftly turn to sour fruit. A few individuals may burn with enough intensity to forbid the fruit to grow from the beauty of the blossoms, but the petals soon become scorched by this same desire and fall, like ashes, to the harsh and arid earth beneath the gnarled and twisted limbs of its tree.
What is life, therefore, in a universe devoid of hope? Evil here is not a random happening; it grows like an object of the sense to entice us with moaning means of pleasure, a vice meant to frighten us by means of pain, our expectations only dried fruit sought in vain to blossom, becoming cheap and contemptible, sordid and corruptible, because of our ignorance that leads us to accept that which already exits and shrouds us in silent winding sheets.
Speak, then, o tree, o my soul! Speak from the roots locked deep in the womb of the earth that gave birth to the heroes who have since turned to dust!
The smiles on the faces in the streets are the smiles of aliens, strangers to me. I do not know from whence they come or whither they are going. As I pass, some become death-head smiles and seem to beckon to me, freezing my soul with their dark mystery. I see in their smiles the whitened bones of my ancestors and hear their ancient songs whispering across the winds of time. Their triumphs have passed, fleeting moments of glory flung into the black pit of eternity and I, the fruit of their loins, now walk the sands of the desert through the blazing sun, an alien in my own land.
The Seventh Elegy
Late thunder rolled ominously across the sky and I thought in despair of a span of time when my breast burst with happiness, and I gloried in the giving of that happiness to the sunken ones wandering blankly through the empty, crowded streets of the city. I believed Fate was only a children's dance, and that man made his way alond and that chance did not play in the scheme of things except for those careless few who were not adept in stepping out of the shadows of others into the light. My veins throbbed with existence then as if each hour was a life of its own to be tasted and fondled and lavishly squandered in laughter and joy as if there were no end to the hours, no end to the joy, no end to time. Believing in the wisdom of childhood was a crime.
Life goes by in changing moods and shifts with age. The fanciful pretensions of youth dwindle. The Time Spirit builds itself, formless as it taxes the youth from man, shrinking his will until it devours the youth to leave the man with vague memories that daily dim, leaving every dark turn of the world unlighted, dark harbors to hide the secret armies of the night, the forces of annihilating Fate that stare grimly, unsmiling among the alien stones of the city.
The miracle of life is now over, leaving behind the dry husk of a man who joins others to wander aimlessly across barren lands and dried sands once covered with the red blood of willing martyrs who fought the forces of time, holding fast for one brief moment the relentless tide of tyranny.
Turning and turning in an endless spiral, time comes back again upon itself, marking its passage in ancient Indian ruins dotted across the landscape. Here, the Mayans ruled, there, the Toltecs and Aztecs. The Yaquis governed the interior when the French did not rule, and the Zapotecs controlled whatever they could. Now, crumbling monuments mark their world.
What monuments will mark ours?
The shifting patterns of time take the hours from us, leaving empty spaces where we dare not build. Our castles must be built in air for land is too dear and must be kept for the maquiladoras from the North.
One who is born here today is born into euthanasia. His world-space has already been allocated to another. We are no more than blind pawns moved from place to place, our destinies controlled at the whim of the new invaders conquering our country from within. The land is theirs.
The Eighth Elegy
Draw me to your breast! We will run together and rejoice in each other's arms and hurl towards the brightness of the heavens twin comets of passion flame, a glowing reflection timeless in its origin, limitless in its future.
Together, we remember love more than the wine of summer, kindling and warming as liquid fire in our breasts, the day's affirmation being sung on a single note of annunciation from a pretty warbler's throat announcing fall and the transpose of slumbering days into nights filled with infinite ecstasy.
The sun has looked upon our love, upon thy brown skin and hot eyes with burning fire, black and luminous, and breasts of soft myrrh, twin hillocks of beauty. I will lie forever between those hillocks and taste the fire of your lips, cinnamon fire, thy black hair a curtain enclosing us, wrapping us in soft, sinuous ropes sweetly scented with perfume from lilies of the valley, thy soft arms cradling me upon our bed made fragrant from roses of Sharon beneath the flowering lemon tree.
The winter does not come though cold winds blow. We are warm together. The rains no longer fall upon dusty earth. Our veins are full of existence that needs no confirmation or affirmation. We can see that in the envious eyes of our neighbor who laughs false laughs to disguise the jealousy he feels since Fate has given us a glorious present.
We do not need his jealousy. It is hidden in the wilderness, a puff of smoke acrid in its beginning and its end. While he trudges among the desolate woods, we stroll through an orchard of apple and cherry trees in the middle of which a spring bubbles, sending bright droplets of water like diamonds high into the air. HIs garden is a fountain sealed. He does not smell the cinnamon and lemon trees. He lives in the dark world that harbors the disinherited who will never know the sweet perfume of myrrh on black locks and brown breasts. His soul has failed him. His bed is one of nails and not of spices. His home is an arid wasteland and not of fruition. He slinks high above the valley of nuts, refusing to descend into the flourishing vines to taste the sweet elixir of the pomegranate.
Here, we lie together in our secret arbor. I taste in your mouth exotic wines and feel the fierce fire of your loins, fire unquenchable by any waters. Upon your couch will I build a palace of silver and cypress wood surrounded by a grove of lemon trees. In the middle of that garden, I will place a door of sweet cedar that will open upon a room of pine and within that room of pine, I will build a table of ebony upon which I will place a copper bowl, and within that highly-burnished copper bowl, I will place two identical crystals. Within the center of each crystal will lie two perfect roses, one of red, another of white, one for passion, the other for purity.
And then the gates of my heart will open and my joy shall flee from the bounds of earthly ties to soar high above the emerald seas. In the silences of the moments, I shall pray that our souls stay united against the mist that enshrouds others with gray souls who trudge the barren hills, sadness full upon them, and wonder where they'll find peace and contentment, a balm for wounded spirits.
Too many fragments of spirits flood the land. Too many hearts ache with hunger and thirst. I feel their pain, yet I can no longer remain among them for the trees which once bore fruit have all become blackened barren stumps and the guardian of the dark no longer lights his lantern to guide seekers through the night.
It is time for us to leave, you and I, for this land has become a foreign land and terrible alien bands trespass among peaceful trees.
I long deeply for the land of memories, but the cry of Dolores is dead, is dead.
The Ninth Elegy
"Behold, how holy I am!
Behold how generous I am!
For I have surrendered
all that I had to gain
the promise of heaven!
Follow me! Follow me! Follow me!"
The man was proud of his confession, but he who surrenders his possessions surrenders only a little part of himself, that part which watches in fear and jealousy the movements of others who might steal that which he feels he needs tomorrow. What has he surrendered except fear and jealousy? That in itself is need born from greed. Such a person is like a man who writes his name upon water to gain immortality.
To give, one must first deserve to be a giver. He who seeks will not find for the desire born from the need for searching is greed in itself and reflects the desperate need of one who wishes to appear worthy or desires to want to do good out of need. But the wanting is a conscious desire that burns as furiously as the raging fire of other prides, being in itself a pride.
Trees do not determine the receiver of their fruits nor do the sheep in high mountain meadows give of their wool with expectations of immortality. They give that they may live and that others may live without seeking due reward in return for generosity.
What, therefore, is the man who gives away his clothes to unveil his pride, to stand proudly naked before others by gladly taking upon himself the yoke of poverty as a symbol of his humility? This is false humility, a being of hypocrisy that leaves a man empty and dark, mistaking self-desire for religion. Who among us can separate faith from actions? Yet, that is what must be: the giving of possessions and the self freely for the sake of others and not to satisfy the whim of one's own divine desires. One cannot live by dividing one's soul in twain, saying, "this part is for myself, and this for others" for all is as one as the sweet flower and sour fruit of the lemon tree are all one and that one the tree whose roots are deeply sunk into moist earth, sucking life-giving juices from the soul divined by omnipotent God. Likewise, is the man who wears his morality as his best garment. Exists there a difference between this man and the prisoner who claims the bars of his cell does not contain him but keeps others away from him? Daily life must become man's temple for all else is dust scattered aimlessly among the sands of the desert.
He who seeks salvation must not look into riddles created by man but look into life itself, the life around man, the clouds, the rain, the flowers, the trees, the sun, the earth, the waters, the breeze.
Man divides his days by hours to become aware of time and its passing. But, what needs man of time? It gives order to chaos, but in that ordering it creates a measure for man's passing through life, an awareness of his fleeting minutes upon earth and the nearing of the end of his life, thus creating anxiety and fear and falseness with its passing.
All life is lived like an unfingered melody and to give order to tinkled notes and chords denies life the exquisite joy of passionate living like winds blowing aimlessly across waters, like branches idly beckoning to each other, like flowers creating abstract fragrances to sweeten man's day in timeless hours.
To seek divisions in time is to build a wall around the self, a tomb to hide trembling senses and mistaken visions inside.
Man has a great need to remember that within him lies eternity, and his life is only a mirror, reflecting that which he most wants to be.
nce a rich man surrendered his possessions and donned sackcloth and ashes to travel the windth and breadth of the land, crying:
The Tenth Elegy
Gentle breezes thrum their essence from the heart of Life. Must we, therefore, look into Life to find its secret? The mole that burrows blindly through dark dearth cannot unveil the mystery of light with eyes accustomed to blackest night. The narrowness of its vision makes light a mystery as Death is a mystery in our sight.
If you would know of Death, know first of Life for both are one even as all waters are one, the river and the sea flowing eternally into each other like silences moving into each other to create hopes and desires.
Dreams move together to cloud the gate to eternity. But, there is no Death in dreams, only suggestions of the infinite awareness that it exists like the world exists, like the heavens exist. Yet, we are not infinitely aware of one or the other. Time passes on silent winds, rivers of silences from which we cannot drink for to drink thus would crowd song from our voices and without song, how then could we learn dances?
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
The mist that drifts away at dawn returns as rain from the clouds only to rise as mist again.
Yet, I do not see my brother or my sister rising from dust to again enjoin limbs in the dance of Life. In the stillness of nights, I have walked the streets, seeking light in the darkness. I hear the heart beats of the universe throbbing in the night, and I know that the night lives, and as the night lives, so do I live. I breathe deeply and smell the breath of Life around me and know that Death may walk in the silences, and I measure Life in my steps and Death in the distances behind me. I dream thoughts, but whose thoughts? Words escape my mouth like waves from a sealed memory that records yesterdays. I know the ancient days when confusion became a spirit that withered the days, eroding them, knocking them down into collections of minutes that became Life in quest of Life in bodies that feared the grave.
Around me loom massive mountains and deep gorges and ravines, stepping stones leading to secret graves and tombs.
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
I pass the fields where my ancestors toiled and see visions of them dancing hand-in-hand, making merry, oblivious to the power and glory they have forgotten. They have no need for power and glory for they are no longer enclosed within their bodies or confined to houses and fields. They live above the mountains and plains, Riders on the Winds, free from their naked selves, dwelling in rhythmic silences. The wind has become their god-self, and they have no need for a weather vane to direct their course. Is this, then, Death? A period when we find ourselves are of yesterdays and our days on earth only brief shadows? Can rushes grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish without water? Can Death, then, flourish without Life or Life without Death? Which, then, is the flower?
Our Life-threads waft in the breeze like spider filaments attached to the earth. Our days are swifter than a runner; they slip away and show no prosperity, launching us into the land of darkness, a land of gathering shadows lit by no ray of light, dark upon dark, an eternity.
Can a man live again if he dies? He is not like the tree which when hewed may sprout full-limbed again from its roots. As the waters of a lake ebb and a river shrinks and runs dry, so mortal man lies down, never to rise.
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
My days die away, fading like an echo. My heart strings snap like hard-played guitar stings. Days become nights and morning light is darkened. My couch is spread in the darkness, the grave becomes my long-lost father, and the worm embraces me like a friend. Dear-lost-and-noble-friend! At last, I have found you! Where, then, shall my hope be? What shall become of my piety? No more memory remains of me. I have become a wisp of straw blown away like chaff before a fall storm.
I feel November in my bones.
One man crowned with success and another coated in bitterness are laid side-by-side in Mother Earth and worms become the shroud of both. Shall both be renounced in dust? Or, shall both receive joy from their sorrow in some distant heavenly bower and comfort those who, like Rachel, weep for sons who have been resigned to the deep?
I can take no comfort in dry words spoken by long dead prophets whose bones are dust.
In the night, I hear the lamentations of widows and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. Bitterly they weep in the night. How terrible their fate! Death mocks them in their fallen state. No one lives who can comfort them, who may abate their sorrow with knowing words of sympathy that promises a better tomorrow for the dead. Who can speak of certainty in such cases who has not traveled to the dark bourne and returned to light? No one. The secret remains a dark secret hidden in the recesses of the tomb.
Upon the once fertile land rests a gray tomb and around this gray tomb, the land lies Lifeless and stark, a bleak land of great waste, the walls of the city torn asunder by the invading armies of the night that bear no arms but leave a wasteland, a desolate place forever. No man will live there, and no man will dwell upon it for the towns have become desolate, the cieties filled with starving people whose grain has been taken from them to fill the granaries of their neighbors, a people who harvest fields and store grain against the future, ignoring the hunger of today. Alas! Alas! The wailing of the people fills the air but falls upon deaf ears!
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
O lente, lente currite noctis equi!
Oh, I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down? See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament! See, see where Juan Diego received his Holy Visitor! See, see where Hidalgo stood and delivered his cry!
All, all dried dust, holy footprints erased by wind. There is no salvation here; only a memento mori: time's winged chariot rattles slowly over mesquite and cactus deserts of vast eternity to the grave wherein feet rest that in ancient time walked over green valleys amid glad cries welcoming olive-skinned foreigners to their towns and parks and cities. Now, only dregs of that famous race cling leech-like to the fainting country, seeking respite from a people starving in untilled fields and driven from homes by an army that wields liberticide and prey as a two-edged sword to enforce golden and sanguine laws, unequal laws made for a race of not unbecoming men who once strove with Gods. But, the long day wanes, the slow moon climbs, the deep moans.
It is far too late t seek a better world. We are not now the strength that in old days held strong and moved heavens and earth upon whims. We are made weak by time and fate and yield to the vast hall of Death to rest uncoffined, uncandled in despairing darkness as a blood-dimmed tide is loosed on the world. Quinceñeras, the ceremony of innocence, the test of purity and fidelity, have seen their hour pass into stony sleep, resting among exiled kings uncrowned in the underworld. This land has pared their pride to the bone by ancient deeds of sorrow.
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
Who knows or is given to know if that which we call Death is Life and our Life dying—who knows? We only know that those who do not walk beneath the sun and feel the wind and rain full upon their faces no longer feel pain and are no longer touched with evil. They no longer crawl to failure or feel the homeless cold or listen to the hungry cries of their children. In Death, they have secured a refuge that welcomes old, wandering beggars, and God-hated children as one celebrate the silent kiss that ends their short lives. The ancient writers say never to have lived is best, never to have drawn breath, never to look into the sun, to quickly forget the day once day is done. But fate has written by day and night we shall run endless races, wearily placing foot before foot along worn pathways disappearing into distances. It is not for us to know toward what goal to run; whatever lies before our feet is enough. All things can be healed by he who gives care to noble hope, to those who build castles in air and give to the suffering people a sweet song to bless the gray days and remind poverty of sun that may shine through the tempsest of lawless seasons and bring bloom to youth's flower in the disfiguring wave that washes shivering bodies into dust.
What will you do, God? I am afraid.
What, then, of Death? A simple slipping from one form to another. Think of the worm that spins a cocoon, burying itself in a tomb of its own making, languishing in the dull bindings of a chrysallis only to emerge reborn in a rainbow of colors, a graceful, delicate figure leaping skyward from earthly ties in the freedom of air and space, a spirit of the earth, yet above it, moving in ether, a Life conceived in mist and glorified in dreams whispering soundlessly the joyful secrets found at day's end in a moment of rest upon the wind.
In the struggling nights, we fall from greatness, broken from the mountain of self, from temple ruins, to become like sibyls and seers a plunging stone.
It is in the silences when I hear the true scream of terror and pain floating on flotsam from the past, Toltec voices wailing for lost daughters, shrieking like a mandrake root torn from the earth, shrieks that drive living mortals to run madly through the streets of Cibola (paved not with gold, but gray concrete), begging those who will listen to pardon them from the sins of their fathers dead before their fathers. Yet, their pleas fall on deaf ears for no one wishes to admit any part of collective guilt. Who am I? they say, to bear the sins of my fathers?
I feel the flux of their hate strike hard, richocheting off the stars as cold light and continue speaking in a dead language that has long since lost any useful significance only because that's the way it's always done. There is nothing new under the sun. Politicians have always robbed the poor just as Coronado's soldiers robbed the indios. This creates a harmony of being, a mysterious cycle like the seasons of growing when the lemon tree puts forth today's sweet flowers and tomorrow's sour fruit.
Sometimes, I think of the grandmothers still lugging water from the well-spring or cradling loaves of bread in brown paper bags within the clasp of withered arms as they struggle back to their cardboard and tarpaper huts in crowded colonias around cemeteries, forgotten now by time and their children's children. These were the ones who oversaw births that the doctor or even the curenderas wouldn't attend because nobody in the colonias had any pesos. These were the ones who stitched colorful thread into children's dresses and shirts to change cheap cloth into handsome garments to give the lie to poverty.
Their husbands—lanthorn, slaughtered youths with worms as their compadres—have shaken the yoke of vengeful stars only to harness themselves to unfeeling dust. These were men who walked like storks through the fields, bending and picking, bending and picking, in cruel litany to the drumming heat of the sun. At noon, in the shade of the lemon tree, they share flat bread and white asadaro cheese and complain about the pain in their knees, likening the pain to prized pilgrimages made for the Virgin of Guadalupe on that blessed of all times when a carpenter died for them, immortalizing them in their work.
Against the pale hooked moon, a dark rider rides, his black horse kicking sparks from the flint of stars. Is this the messenger of the god of power? Does this horseman ride for us to take us back among the stars from whence we came before unholy fall?
Sing, Dark Rider, Sing! Speak your name! Let your voice mount passionately from tight lips!
I should like to trade my huarches for your horse, to swap my hoe for your saddle, and ride among the stars, galloping, bleeding from the dry sorrow of this earth and climb the heights to the pale hooked moon and live within the silence of the intimate night.
But the Rider passes me by, his frozen face fixed far on the distant horizon where distant voices chant: Let us destroy, destroy! before slowly disintegrating into the misplaced afternoon dressed in cold sun.
Amancecia en el limon arbol se quedo desnuda el aqua.
Here, in the colonias, the soul is the only traveler. The lady remains behind to work parched earth, stumbling among anonymous stones through days that creep like snails towards eternity. The seasons secretly pass, marking their passing with cold whispers upon numbed flesh that does not receive the message of their passing for the flesh has died for ever and ever, sweet blossoming flower turned to bitter fruit.
A stretching silence settles down. The neckcurls of the day hang limp and dank upon the broad shoulders of the night. I wait patiently. A lone star hangs from the nether lip of the moon. Dark mist curtains the doorway of the house. The night suddenly fills with rushing wind!
Dark rider, what soul do you carry to Nineveh?
The rustle of bat wings answers my plea. I sigh. I sleep. Tomorrow will come again and again and when dawn creeps through my oaken door, I will rise and go again to the fields.