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April 8, 2011 / johnoliversimon

Caminante 12: Grutas

CAMINANTE

All aboard for the underworld!

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“A major poem” — Gary Snyder

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12

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GRUTAS

As if we were trying to sleep in Plato’s cave
within the carven fangs of limestone gods
where the flowered road descends and disappears
through ganglia of spiders, or under a thin
piss-soaked blanket in the jail cell of Chamula
or in the dark outside the negotiations
holding the yellow cord of witnessing
to pass alive once more through Xibalbá.

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Chiapas
10/19-20/1995

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Comentario: Xibalbá is the Mayan Hades. In San Andrés Larrainzar, I’m an international observer while the civil society, mostly campesinos, is holding a yellow rope that encircles the block where the authorities have a date with the EZLN. The Grutas, a black cave-mouth that leads for kilometers under the mountain, is lined with flowers when they sprinkle the blood of sacrificed chickens to make way for Saint Francis on the gentle saint’s feast day. The political and sacred topographies coincide, at least in dream.

 

Overview: From the Solidaridad office in the traveller mecca of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, we’re trucked through bandit dusk, ridged headlight dark,  down to San Andrés Larrainzar, whence the red-black diamond fish-or-arrow patterns fly or swim on white fabric. A gringo scene ensues, on line, where ya from. The international observers walk clockwise on barely cobbled streets round an impassive line of campesinos holding a yellow plastic rope in support of the Eh-Zeta-Ellay-Ennay, who argue with the giovernment until midnight and then emerge, in masks, to read their communique. Of course I was hoping fior a star turn from Marcos, but he didn’t show. The poem uses the down-home Mayan metaphor of  going down into the caves, the limestone caverns, or Grutas de San Cristóbal, for the politics involved.

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