Mexico City

 

            zig

      zag

                   down across                          

 side across

   zig

          zag:

                 Breathing of a Mexican (of Lebanese origin) cabaret singer

                         Chant of an old woman selling peanut-cream-candy

              words

         Snakes and steps of pyramids older than Aztecs+

    Rows of seats in the inverted-pyramid of the world’s largest bullfighting arena^

            Gray tattered homes on gray hills in the ‘belt of misery’*in the North  

                of Mexico City

                   A motif on the 1787 castle in Chapultepec, historical forest first       

                        settled by Aztecs      

                on permission of the Tecpanecs

             From sacred forest of the Tecpanecs

          to home of Aztec nobles,

       to home of men the likes of Cortes

 A little boy dressed as a clown, with balloons for buttocks, winding in and      out of traffic              

                   in search of pesos

                         Friends pacing up and down the dance floor in a gay antro^,

                                    acting like models with too much on their minds

            A crowded bus zig zagging through vendors and stalls in a street crowded like Cairo

    Posters protesting the privatization of all this hybridizing heterogeneity

                 Cacti spines spitting across the sky

           

In the same place

where I saw nothing but scraps yesterday,

today I see the rusty roof of someone’s shack

Today, unlike the first day

in the same heart of the same city,

I see bare cracked feet

and in the North, green growing-up through the gray.

A woman with a cane gets on the bus so I leave my seat for her

but a nimble young man gets there before her

And every time a seat is freed, someone gets there before her

today I know how it feels to not be able to speak-out against something one is witnessing

because the language is not yet familiar enough.

                                                                                   

 

Here is a building of people on fire

       Here is an accident in an ancient-modern silver mine not far from Mexico City

            Here is a girl combing another girl’s hair

                  Here is a market full of flowers and herbs and bright plastic and black magic

                             Here is a devil in a church and the people in awe

            Here is a woman flipping blue corn tortillas in a tianguis+

      filling them with squash-flowers,   

 stringy cheese and meats,

        folding them over,

            gently tucking-in the bits 

                  which always slip-out

                        which always slip-out 

      Here is a sultry travel agent, helping-out his brother with some money to spend

  so he can live the life of a late teenager

       Here are three teenagersmaybe brotherssleeping in the same car, on the same street,

            every night of the week

     Here is a suave bureaucrat paying for the books of a student

who is an attendant of the 24-hour-parking lot where he parks his car                        

 

            zig

                zag

                                    down across

            side across

                          zig

                 zag

 

Here it is.

Plenty of anonymous paintings

of plenty of anonymous people and things

in their everyday being

on exhibit

here

in this stucco-mudejar-baroque building*

built of plenty of anonymous sentiments

by plenty of anonymous hands.


+The Teotihuacan archeological site just outside of Mexico City features the ruins of a major city which reached its peak in AD 500. After the fall of Teotihuacan around AD 700-750, the region was occupied by peoples of Toltec affiliation, and it was following this, around 1325, that the Aztecs began using the city as a ceremonial center.

^Plaza Mexico, somewhere in the large center of Mexico City.

*The shanty towns lacing cities are known as el cinturon de la miseria (belt of misery) throughout Latin America.

^The Spanish word used in Mexico for club or discotheque.

+A Nahuatl word for the pre-Hispanic markets in which goods have been bought and sold from the time when Mexico City was a confederation of towns connected by canals. Various tianguis still exist today.

*The Mexico City one sees today is full of architecture influenced by Moorish and Hispanic styles as interpreted by the indigenous builders who integrated their own materials and styles (stucco modeling, for example, was a fine art mastered by many tribes in pre-Hispanic times). This process, known as arte tequitqui (Tequitqui art), unfolded in most cities of Mexico from around the mid-seventeenth century.

 

 

from breathing for breadth (TSAR: 2005, pp. 114-116)

(first published as “Mexico City, 1999”; in Celebrating Voices-A Journal of Feminist Expression. September 1999. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 12-13.)

 

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