To be mistaken for American,
riding the sun down into the sea,
holding your flowing mane tight in my hands.
The skin of my body has darkened in the drought season.
I can say Hello, Goodbye, I love you, I am afraid, love.
She makes me a bed in the sand,
the whites of her eyes brighter than the moon’s.
The puppy howls and scratches at the door.
The guns frighten him.
I fear tires screeching,
fists rattling the metal gate,
faces at the end of a dream.
‘I greet you,
or warn you. I hold a spear.
I am Cuauhtemoc, mastered by none.
You must kill my body to own my mind.’
To be mistaken for Aztec,
climbing to the top of the Pyramid,
lying down, face up, waiting.
Only a few are permitted to enter the sanctuary of Tlaloc.
Those who can make the sky dance.
Those who fuck with rain.
I can do nothing but awake the sun.
No one here knows how to make the mind rest, the body warm.
no one here
at the top of the mountain,
at the end of the winding road,
climbing the terraced steps of the plaza,
walking up through crooked streets,
slipping on the stones shining, wet with urine,
passing under the arch of the Lady of Death and Life,
greeting the ghost on the cathedral roof.
The ghost said to me on the roof of the cathedral,
‘This will be your home, here you will live for
the first time in the world,’
only the white clothes moving back and forth,
moving to the beat of the dong of the iron bell.
I stood still in the shadow of the bell,
thinking it would fall, and I wake:
this vision I have given you that you may return
and be always restless, remembering your body
moving in these streets and standing still,
looking through the village into yourself,
into the bowels of the universe, seeing there
a loveliness your people do not see, ou will sing
of a world as beautiful as the open thighs
of your woman
He vanished. The child was there,
under his straw sombrero, saying, Come down.
The sky smoke, its vapor hung over the jungle.
He let me go down the wood ladder before him,
my legs trembling, the first drop of rain
touching my lower lip. He followed me
as I began to descend the stone steps winding down.
Into the village:
the rain soaks me, stand still, legs without a trail,
still, be frozen, be indian, be the heart of the stone,
be, under the eave of a roof in the market, the thunder,
eyes as old as the tips of the roots of the jacaranda,
feet as strong as the body of the roots rising to earth
and becoming the trunk of the jacaranda, mist through me
–Floyce Alexander, 1968,
in Bottom Falling Out of the Dream (1976)
copyright 1976, 2011