March 6, 2001
Tepoztlán, State of Morelos, México
Sing the word Tepoztlán, Place of Copper,
pueblo of cobblestone and purple blossoms
amid the cliffs, serpent god ablaze with plumage
peering from the shaven rock.
Sing the word Zapata, bandoliers crossing his chest
like railroad tracks about to explode, rebellion's black iris
in 1910, in his eye the peasants of Morelos husking rifles
stalk by stalk from the cornfields.
Sing the word Zapatista, masked rebels riding now
in a caravan without rifles, tracking the long rosary of blood
beaded and stippled across the earth by other rebels the color of earth,
bus panting uphill saddled with ghosts dangling legs from the roof.
Sing the words Félix Serdán, age eleven when he straddled the horse
to ride with Zapata, witness to a century's harvest of campesino skulls
abundant as melons, twined in white mustache and blanket
beside the comandantes on the platform.
Sing the word comandante, twenty-three of the faceless
masked in black so their brown skin could grow eyes and mouths,
smuggling Mayan tongues to the microphone in the plaza
where the church drowses in dreams of Latin by rote.
Sing the word durito, hard little one, scarab on a banner
draped across the face of the church where bells bang
to welcome the rebels, as the scarab-people cluster below
shouting their vow never to be crushed by the shoe.
Sing the word zapateado, tap and stamp of women dancing in the plaza
to the hummingbird rhythms of Veracruz, guitarist in fedora
watching his fingers skitter like scarabs across the wood,
shawled dancer lost in the percussion of her feet.
Sing the word Marcos, el Subcomandante, and listen
when he says above the crowd chanting his name:
Marcos does not exist. I am a window. I am a mirror.
I am you. You are me.
from Alabanza: New & Selected Poems