At Palenque
by Nadya Aisenberg 


A plain wide and flat as Godís palm.
Ahead, a hundred-breasted hill
spills its verdure like some Amazonian
Astarte, dense world of secrets covering tree trunks,
branches, rocks. Nothing but this green exuberance
footed in red clay so firmly baked we
wonder if it holds the print of all our origins.

Into rain forest past dripping Indian huts
where barefooted children speak an unrecorded tongue,
and itís somewhere around here, I think, we lose
that slender sliver ĎIí, that tender pole in which we hang a self.

At the ruins we marvel at fretted towers, tunnels,
vaults, sarcophagus within sarcophagus. But itís the fear
thatís fathomless, that we recognize as true: Suppose
the sun-god, sunk in the underworld each night, disdains to rise?
Suppose the pot-bellied earth-god, smoking his cigar, decides to 
hoard earthís treasure for himself? The sacrificial stones wait
for something hot and steaming to propitiate the gods,
poised to devour us between bored, carniverous jaws.

Copyright © 1989 by Nadya Aisenberg. 
From Before We Were Strangers by Nadya Aisenberg, Forest Books, 1989.


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