In Ruins & Rising

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The heart is a safe place to live,
remember that
when you have forgotten.
That is the only miracle
you must always remember.

 

You walk in the front door and barely a breath passes
before you find yourself out the back door,
arrow-straight pathway
to the sea,
diving head first
into the secret lives of mermaids
and a million tiny miracles,
the kind made of
saltwater dreams,
jungle birdsongs
and roadside shrines
to Our Lady of Guadalupe,
for those times
when you fall on your knees
in gratitude
or for those times
when you have nothing
but a fucking prayer
for the all-embracing mother
whose starlit gown
and crescent moon chariot
carry stories told
for thousands of years,
long before she came here.
And if you want to listen
you can hear
the sounds of night falling
and the electric kiss
of silent lightning
piercing dark skies,
holding a space vast enough
for meteors
to dance in the sultry air,
enveloping you like the languid body
of a tired lover
whose crystal waters lap sweetly
on your white shores,
untouched, mostly,
vines bursting with
purple blossoms
crawling across
seashell mountains
and seaweed rotting
in the beating sun.

And the driving down dusty roads,
lined with green,
thick and tangled,
past children playing, barefoot,
past tiny wooden crosses
on every doorway
and ladders to nowhere,
past abandoned buildings,
sweet old dogs, and roaming chickens,
the king of iguanas
guarding a shack
with ceviche from heaven,
while a little girl waves
in front of crumbling walls,
whose fading colors
bloom behind her.
Maybe these makeshift shrines
to the virgin mother
tell you that this
is all you need,
because of how beautiful
they are-
their clusters of candles,
sometimes lit,
their wilting flowers
and neon lights
flashing against the darkness.

And the song-filled bike ride
to the pyramids,
who touch the place
where the sky is born,
where you explore
the chambers of the ancients,
still slumbering in stone.
You are content
to only climb mid-way,
because your body goes weak,
heart racing fear of heights-
no sacrifice today.
So you sit on the ruins
communing with Ixchel,
moon goddess of becoming,
of rain, of healing,
weaver of fertile prayers,
medicine woman
alive in every phase of her creation.

An iridescent blue butterfly
comes to you to say:
you are not imagining things,
yes, this is really happening.
And at the foot of another temple
you walk through
a passage of initiation,
chasing the light,
cherishing every step
because you know what happens here:
You are never the same,
reborn on the other side.

Then there’s the part
where you just have to laugh
at comparing the wet, thick air
to a a lover,
because it soon
turns into an enemy
urging you to keep seeking
these prehistoric sinkholes
to wash the perpetual sweat
from your skin,
finding pure delight in the jump,
free-fall
into unimaginable beauty,
the kind that turns you
into a creature,
who howls and sings
the sounds that come
from a timeless space,
but somehow it also
rattles your memory
and brings out the best
90’s pop tunes,
because when delirium sets in,
Mariah Carey goes perfectly
with the ancient Mayans
“it’s just a sweet,
sweet fantasy baby”
swimming in these
underwater cities,
labyrinths of
subterranean rivers,
burial grounds
and portals to the underworld,
where as you float, you decide
that you too will bury
your dead here,
all your bullshit
and your beloveds
you can no longer carry-
these unreal spaces
make you drop it all.
For a moment
there are no humans left,
just you and the ghosts
and the wild things,
and you are not afraid.

So you move gracefully
through the dark
in embryonic caves
filled with turquoise waters
whose depths you will never know,
and you decide
you will never lie to yourself again
about some things,
(about those things
you will never know,)
because at some point
you understand
that what is seen
cannot be unseen
and what is felt
cannot be unfelt,
and what is known
will never again be unknown,
but still, you will always prefer
the way it feels
to merge with the mystery
to find beauty there,
and truth,
in all that lies beneath,
floating softly
in womb-like waters
of the mother.

Because mystery is the first love
of water nymphs and mermaids,
so you descend into another cave,
found at the end
of another dusty road,
where stalactites loom above you
and water drips onto your head
as you swim towards the center,
finding comfort beneath a single hole
in the ceiling
through which sunlight shines,
the golden thread
to the world above.
You can’t stop smiling,
feeling your human hands clinging
to the edge of the earth,
little feet kicking
to stay afloat,
then the sweetness of letting go,
because this is all one big letting go,
joyfully plunging below the surface,
surrendering
to the depths of the unknown
in the caves of your inner being.

Then there is that other
hidden cenote
surely favored by las brujas,
where the water is more emerald
than turquoise,
surrounded by mangroves,
where some force
calls you further and further in,
to where it is cold,
to where the roots reach out
like gnarled hands
you don’t want to hold,
but are curious
about touching anyway,
because when you go quiet
you can hear the spirits of the dead whispering:
“you can hold on to nothing here.
Just absorb it into your body,
so when you die,
and they bury you,
the earth can sing your life
through what grows
from your bones.”

And so all of this
you must release:
the flesh scraped by dead coral,
bruised by rocks,
sliced by shells,
stung by salt,
bitten by strange insects,
turned blistery
by jellyfish larvae,
hair woven into knots by the sea,
ears heavy with water
and siren songs,
finger pinched to hell
by a kind-looking hermit crab,
stomach aching
from dancing in the kitchen
after eating too much papaya,
coconut, dragonfruit,
mango, rambutan,
tamarindo, and tequila,
or maybe it overdosing on queso fresco,
or choking on the ocean from laughing too hard
about falling out of the kayak one too many times-
but these are the blessings of the journey,
slippery paths
and countless oases
to remind you of your aliveness,
friends alongside,
soothing the aches.
This saying goodbye,
to the the sand between your toes
the way your heart
will always fill
and empty again
with the tides,
where you will laugh
your way to divinity,
uncontrollable hilarity,
joy, deep sorrow,
and then an even deeper stillness.
Yes,this is all one big letting go.
We will have to give everything up.
So fuck it,
jump from the scary heights,
and listen
to the wonderful elf-like man
who told you at the cliffside ruins,
“Fly your imagination!”
because that is some truth right there.

And you imagine that somewhere Ixchel, Tonantzin,
y Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
hold hands and smile above it all,
with tears in their eyes,
above the blood and sacrifice
above the obsidian and the honey and the music,
above the ornate churches
built for one god
built on top of temples
built for many gods-
the descending god, the honeybee god,
the wind god,
a space for everything
to be loved.
We all need a sanctuary
when darkness falls,
because it always will,
and you will pray that
building your refuge
won’t hurt anyone else’s,
and that your retreat
will be respected,
as we all look for the light
that comes from nowhere,
the light that holds it all,
shining into emptiness,
lighting up the caverns
of our sacred hearts-
entangled and shining,
together,
in the house of the spirits
through which blows
a warm gentle wind
who will carry it all away.
The heart is a safe place
to live,
remember that
when you have forgotten.
That is the only miracle
you must always remember.

Inspired by breathtaking Tulum, Yacobá, Valladolid, Ek’Balam, Cobá, and other magical places of Quintana Roo & Yucatán, Mexico.

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