Friday, July 15, 2016

Coatlicue, c. 1500, Mexica (Aztec), found on the SE edge of Plaza mayor/Zocalo: basalt, 257 cm high (National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City)


I take Coatlicue with me to market,
 her rattlesnakes striking each
other beneath her skirt, zoomorphized

feet, pieces of eyes and skulls, talons
 and feathers, to help me find something
for the little love I’ve lost—

some dish some spice some poison—
 until she frightens other shoppers
and we’re asked to leave. Gravediggers

exhumed her once in 1790, with the sun stone,
 but reburied her for she so terrified
her diggers. Hands and human hearts

around her neck, she’s meant
 for power and I can’t bear myself
asking for something as mundane

as death. She’s basalt heavy, tired of being
 misunderstood, and I drag her behind me
with a rope. Bound together

by those broken parts, she’s decapitated
 (they say her children killed her)—they say
she swallows us who need her, allows us to live

in darkness. I lead her behind my empty house
 through the alley, small shoes strung on a telephone
wire, through the side gate toward the backyard

where my daughter used to pull
 the heads of dandelions and blow her wishes
into the chill night air. I offer Coatlicue

a beer from the ice chest, but those two snakes
 sprouting from the stump at her neck,
their split tongues curling downward,

decline. She pulls up a chair and pretends
 to rest, though we understand that’s impossible.
She and the other mothers saved our very cosmos

by offering their own lives. I ask her would she let herself
 be turned to stone again for love,
that pain. She peels off her heart hand heart

necklace and offers it to me.
 I take it to the place my daughter lies,
stone to stone. And then I understand.

Friday, July 15, 2016