The Mexican boy waist-deep in the bay flicks his wrist
His nets fan wide and wide
Like the swift telling of his life
If I could compose
Myself in curved continuous lines
I would endure all day the stinging nettles of sun.
From behind the fringed involvement of palms,
Fronds dipping and billowing like landed sails,
What is it we seek to recover?
First, the loss of gods among us: twenty-foot basalt statues at Tula;
Then, each other: pieces that belong to another, surf-tossed,
Next, ourselves: Leech us, name us, kiss us, red-mouthed hibiscus.
I saw how footfall after footfall proceeding
Is part of the weltering world, its range and pull; I saw
Beyond my life, angels ankle-deep in cloud and ready to step off
Into the blue empyrean, wait for the fire-eating boy
Who whispers, ‘No puedo cantar’, on the Avenida Insurgentes.
I saw how we touch and tend each other
Until all things fall naturally to earth.
What we have made is first history, then ruins
On which the butterfly-children of Quetzalcoatl perch
And travellers climb.
In a shudder the foal becomes
a sway-back nag.
Head slumped to grass. Grass
turns to trackless sand.
Still, hints rise in a flock from the crater’s pool;
Unseen the maguey worm makes beer;
White-shirted children reflect the stars.
For nothing dies.
But different changes
give their various forms.
Copyright © 1989 by Nadya Aisenberg.
From Before We Were Strangers by Nadya Aisenberg,
Forest Books, 1989.