Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miguel Méndez, from Pilgrims in Aztlán

We were living in the desert. Dry land, as greedy as a mother without teats, under a sky that was like a magnifying glass, at the foot of slopes so rocky that from a distance they looked like they were covered with petrified turtles. My younger brothers and I had a little friend we adored, a little stream. It rolled down in a curve to where we lived from a hillside that at night turned into a mountain. Its pebbles were toys that we loved so much. We played with it every day, caressing its dream until one day the miracle of the rain would awaken it. Then, lively, naughty, noisy, it would run like we did, joyfully. When we caught sight of the rain, we would run to meet it. It’s looking for us! Would you like to play with us, little stream? Yes, yes, let’s go play! You know something? The water is like a magician or a fairy godmother. It’s colorless, takes on the color of things, tastes like life, and brings forth the voice of nature in everything it touches. As it rushed downhill, we would hear the scrub brush and the branches drinking eagerly, thirstily. It would conjure up the whistling of the large and calcinated stones. When the current spread out, the little stones, half out of the water, would sing together a sweet song of babies dressed in white. We would run to meet it. And in order to get down to where it was flat, we would wait at a two-meter waterfall that took the water over an enormous crag, which slapped strongly like a dry tongue and then noisily continued to drink. We continued to run.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Miguel Méndez, from Pilgrims in Aztlán

It was in those days that I crossed the Bacatete range. I spent four days and four nights contemplating the rocks down a ravine, the trees, the animals in the hills, the sky, the riverbeds, and everything that I am and what I do not know. I knew then that I’m an old tree, very old, and you can’t imagine the sap that flowed within me. In my arms, on my shoulders, in my hair, a symphony of birds lived. I felt myself happy, very happy, in spite of how those were the days when the sun hurled its columns of fire at the earth. The nights were cool to me because I went about naked like an animal. You see, I would begin to sing out of happiness, and my voice would go out from the throat of the canyons to fly among the valleys. Have you ever felt yourself to be a raging river? How marvelous it feels! You come down from the heights, roaring like a bull, carrying along with you the dry, useless branches, bringing the greenery to life, and you carry along in your current the seeds for those same trees withered by the years to be born again, just like you were a stream of life. It doesn’t take long for you to feel like a tree yourself at the same time you’re a riverbed. You also feel like a deer when you see them running like they were flying with those horns that in reality are dismembered wings. I sat down to think, wanting to know about the rocks and the sky, when all of a sudden I began to feel myself full of thorns, and why not, since I was made of juicy pulp, full of sap and chlorophyll. If you want to feel like something really, really beautiful, pretend you are a prickly pear.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tony Shearer, Interview (1986)

Tony Shearer, "The Vision of Salavi," from Lord of the Dawn (1971)

Salavi left the Temple of Quetzacoatl
                        And went into the barracks
                        of the Nonoalca
                        And chose twenty of them
                        To go forth into all parts
                        Of the land,
                        To the extent of all directions
                        And to tell
                        Everyone they encountered
                        He would soon be on Earth.

He reminded them that
                        No one will believe you.
                        Is exactly as it is meant to be."
                        Salavi laughed.
                        Tell them anyway,
                        Tell them once more,
                        Tell them they have been told---

Salavi then returned to
                        The Temple of the Dawn
                        And prepared for
                        A vision.

                        Four days he fasted in the Temple,
                        No food
                        No water
                        No words from his lips
                        No sleep.

                        He rested
                        Slept for a full night
                        Arose in the morning before the sunlight
                        Ate raw fruit
                        Drank of the cactus tea
                        Drank of Water.

                        He cried for the vision.
                        His song was heard throughout the city.
                        And all who heard
                        Knew why.
                        No one understood the words
                        To the Ancient Chant.
                        Those words, and
                        That song
                        Were said to
                        Have come from another world.
                        A world now buried beneath
                        The rolling tides of salt water
                        In the
                        Great Eastern Sea,
                        And now known only by
                        The elders of the
                        Council of Quetzalcoatl.

"Evoke the nether world,
Evoke the spirit of the Earth Mother,
The voice of the Clouds,
Evoke the Heart of Heaven
The Heart of the Earth,
And quest for the hidden words."

Salavi's vision came from
                        An ancient tree.
                        A tree
                        He had never seen
                        Had often heard about.

                        The vision came
                        Through the branches
                        Of the tree
                        He wondered
                        If this could be
                        The "Tree of Life."

                        The answer came back

                        He questioned
                        Of Mixcoatl
                        And the Chichimeca.
                        The answer
                        Came from the roots of the Great Tree,
                        Came to him
                        In this way.

"The Chichimeca are as much a part of this story
                        As is
                        The Feathered Serpent.
                        Without them
                        The Manifestation
                        Would not be true,
                        Would not be complete,

                        The Chichimeca are
                        From a faraway land
                        On the other side of your Earth-land,
                        On the other side of your Earth-mother,
                        And they,
                        Like you
                        Are very important
                        To the Creation of All Things.

                        People of Dog Lineage,
                        Descendant of a man called Dog.
                        This man
                        Was a most important
                        servant of the Creation
                        In another time,
                        And they,
                        The Chichimeca
                        Are his descendants.

                        Mixcoatl was
                        Their Gifted One,
                        The last
                        Of their seed.
                        Is the Burning Bush
                        Of This Land.

                        Cloud Serpent,
                        Milky Way,
                        Tree of the Sky,
                        You can be sure that
                        He was faithful
                        To his very death."

The vision became bright now, and continued
                        "Tezcatlepoca is not a Chichimeca idea,
                        He belongs to your people.
                        He is blood thirsty
                        That is because
                        The people want blood,
                        He is a God
                        An idol
                        A creation of man.
                        He comes
                        Your choise of
                        The first two heavens.

                        Know him well,
                        Learn his habits,
                        Learn his power,
                        Has created him
                        Will be here
                        The end of the Ninth Hell.
                        He will remove his mask
                        You will be surprised
                        He really is."

The vision had passed.

The Little People,
                        The Pockwatchies
                        And the Tlaloques
                        From hill to hill,
                        Every moon-bathed path they went,
                        Singing a new song,
                        One never heard before,
                        Not even by them.
                        On and on they went
                        Through woods
                        And over desert,
                        Singing as they danced.
                        The Pockwatchies,
                        The Little People
                        Were thrilled with the news of
                        They carried the news
                        From hill to hill
                        From wood to wood.

In their tiny hearts they knew what was coming.
                        Little guardians of the Earth
                        That one day
                        Would have to face
                        The brunt of man's ignorance,
                        They danced on
                        And singing
                        Of the wonders of the Creator,
                        For they knew that

                        All things that must be
                        Must be in balance

                        That takes practice.