i should mention before you begin, i played this song over and over when writing this blog&poem. you may want to listen as you read.
before leaving for Puebla, i would constantly look up pictures of the area: the nature, the buildings, the people, the cities around it. one image i continued to connect to was that of El Popo, the volcano one can see from the city. being a Minnesotan, i have never been so close to a volcano. its beauty and consciousness made me want to climb right up it and look inside. its constant sputters were like whispers, asking for open ears and eyes to hear its story. i knew that when i arrived in Puebla i would feel an even greater desire to get close to El Popo. my connection to the Puebla volcanoes seems to be creeping around in my dreams, both asleep and awake.
El Popo is never alone. next to him lies Izta, not as tall, not as alive, she is the other half of the legend of the two. i haven’t been told their story by a Mexican, and i do not want to dampen the potency that is “The Smoking Mountain” and “The White Woman.” it can be read (in the online version, at least), here. of course it’s a love story. surprise surprise.
after days of decompression, i finally felt ready to write this poem. this important dream. this endless connection to the guardians of Puebla.
over the terrace walls, in the shadows
lies El Popo. sputtering murmurs of what’s been lost and
i stood at the window, rain glossing and dripping over the pane.
the clouds bound the sky,
[as they have in my waking hours.
disguising the city’s guardians for privacy’s sake.]
wiser people stood around the room. no foot tapping,
no restless fantasies – simply trusting what they knew was there.
even the companions i traveled to this spot with
played games in the grass outside.
there was no flood with them.
the sky punished my impatience with steady rain.
the longer i wait, my awe sinks back
into my gut. on the edge of caving in.
and then – the state of the sky shifted.
clouds untied themselves from left and right,
divided, unfastened from the bottom up –
into sight: Izta. perfect shape of a woman,
too far to see if her breathing moved mountains, stunningly still
where she has lain since the Pleistocene.
of course i wanted more. never satisfied with only
one half of a pair.
the clouds agreed.
they parted much quicker then,
as if my fantasies pushed them apart.
there emerged Popocatépetl. a pillar from his mouth,
tall as the empyrean, indigenous gods and animals visible on his face.
smoke puffing all around him
the strength of his expression demanded my gaze.
this is when:
breath trapped itself in my throat,
placed my hands on the rainy glass,
and wept for the sight i’d craved for months.
without leaving my post, i tried to gather my cohort.
they filtered into the room, glanced out the window,
and left, as i wept, and silently pleaded for them to understand.
some things cannot be taught.
must be seen in dreams, in your own dreams
without coaxing or convincing.
must be demanded by your own gods.
the next morning –
as we drove north toward his hazy domain,
he did emerge. over a hill and there was the Smoking Man,
barely snowcapped, looking us right in the face.
again i gasped. waking life, the skyward pillar flashed in my memories,
i told my tale of El Popo and Ixta
watched him sputter and spit.
watched him remember to awaken
[for the city]
for my conscience to stay afloat, be reminded
even Existence is surmountable
and thus far
is what carries.
is what takes you over mountain ranges.
and your awe, volatility and all
is what survives.
“Climb me.” he says.
He sputters –
a few days after this dream, El Popo had a sizeable eruption. premonition dreams!