CLARA BENSEN

A Minor Poem for Mexico City

A MINOR POEM FOR MEXICO CITY

in Mexico City a straight line
never gets you anywhere
how could it?
in a city arranged on a grid of
calabaza slice and melon wedge;

in a city built atop a vanished lake;
in halls where you drift backwards and
diagonal and through doors
that appear without warning,
coaxing you into rainy jacaranda gardens
you swore you’d seen somewhere else;

in museums where a dark haired man
leans into the glass and hisses
bone, human bone
and walks away saying yesssssss 
like the feathered serpent himself

in this place they call el monstruo,
where the sky is thick with
smog from the monster’s lungs,
smoke that comes down from the sky
and into the mezcal
that burns your throat
and enters your dreams,
to convince you that
your sister might fall out the window
and into the courtyard,
where the night before
you woke to soft moaning
and the slap of skin on skin

in this city where the sister
who did not fall out the window
stands beside you near Chapultepec
beside a lake that has not vanished
and you say
am I dreaming?
as you point to an island of reeds
invisibly propelled across a still lake
and she nods without questioning,
this sister who murmurs at night
and sleeps with her knees in the air

in Mexico City, you
and the sister with the pyramid knees
are dizzy in the catedral 
whose white columns are leaning,
whose Aztec floor is slanting downwards, 
towards the dried up altiplano lake

and so what if this is a dream
where time isn't straight
and your destination never arrives
in this city where Tláloc
hurls granizo from the smoke-filled sky,
shredding leaves into green confetti bits,
which a woman sweeps,
her broom tsk-ing in the moonlight
beneath the window your sister did not fall from