University of New Mexico Press, Fall 2011

RUINS - poems With a Foreword by V. B. Price

, by Margaret Randall

In Search of the Next Sun

 
At Teotihuácan I watch helpless as you slip away,
are sucked, taken
from this time into that other.
You walk beside me,
children and grandchildren scattered oblivious
between pyramids of Sun and Moon
along broad Avenue of the Dead,
but I know it is only your shell accompanies me
silent and pale as chalk.
 
Later you try to describe the place you escaped
with such effort: brittle and cold
between two millennia gone and now.
How you tore yourself from the witness
of your hologram eyes,
obsidian knife entering breast
after breast, blood-drenched hearts
lifted from darkness to sky
in search of the next sun.
 
Birthplace of gods, at its moment of greatest glory
a pulsing city of pyramids
and butterfly palaces,
home to 200,000 Otomi, Zapotec,
Mixtec, Maya, Nahua and Totonac,
craftspeople, potters,
worshippers of Quetzalcoatl:
feathered serpent who gave them
source and ordinary life.
 
Something terrible happened here,
was all you could say
when you finally made it back to me,
something unspeakable,
and you did not speak of it
until our poet friend
told her own near-death experience
caught at the pyramid’s highest point,
unable to descend.
 
At Chaco too you feel the terror,
especially at Pueblo Bonito: Great House
of 600 rooms holding central kivas
in its arms, incomplete circle
of walls, small doors and high windows
framing passing clouds to capture beauty
camouflaging what happened 800 years ago
when this was the center,
hub of roads stretching to cardinal winds.
 
And at Canyon de Chelly, Spanish bungling
of the Navajo Tségi—“inside the rock”
where in 1805 at the place two streams converge
a shattered cave remains as evidence.
Invaders massacred women, children, old men,
and two centuries later
their fear inhabits your body,
you draw into yourself
the screams cutting desert air that day.
 
In a thousand years if we are still searching
for the next sun
I wonder if certain visitors to Auschwitz,
Ramallah, Baghdad, Kabul, Soweto,
Morazán, Acteal or Port-au-Prince
alive to what happened there
may feel themselves pulled into a dimension
between their time and ours, fear they will
not escape what we still do to one another.