At the Hall of the Red Tlalocs

Efraín Bartolomé

At the Hall of the Red Tlalocs 1
          for Guadalupe Belmontes Stringel  2


I stroll the courtyards of Tepantitla
like the barefoot kinsman walking the ancient roads
with lightest tread
for fear of causing hurt

The same sunbeam now asleep on the ground
could regret the heaviness of my step

Or the dust    the red molecules    the mortar    the
thoughtful rock

My wife
with unerring eye
takes note of the final details
of this crime:
reads the remains of paradise on the wall
remnants of the wise tree
that once gave light
and shadow
in this wasteland

In the outside air    riddled
Little butterflies fluttering in slow flight


1  Minor rain gods, children and brothers of the great Aztec god of the rain and fertility.

2  The poet’s archeologist wife.



Distant audible voices    echoes    aggressive motors

Ants gush from the tezontle  1

Grass is growing on the roofs

Suddenly nothing:
bursts of intense silence

I look again at the wail:
What a small dwelling for so much grandeur to inhabit

There remains but
a fragment of glory

The rest
is burning in the aggrieved air of the delicate afternoon

It is all yours    Senoñra
Have it

You know what you give to us and what you take from us

This stifled cry remains lying at your feet.

tr. Asa Zatz


1  Red lava used as building material to this day.