Breathing of a Mexican (of Lebanese origin) cabaret singer
Chant of an old woman selling peanut-cream-candy
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
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 teenagers–maybe brothers–sleeping 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
Here it is.
Plenty of anonymous paintings
of plenty of anonymous people and things
in their everyday being
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.)