Pirámide de hombres, (c.1944)

Ángel García

Juan en las ruínas de Uxmal/realmente de Palenque

N 20° 21’ 35.64” W 89° 46' 6.167”


On centuries of stone, seventeen men seated in four rows

pose for photos they’ll later send home to their families:

wives and children, siblings, parents: un recuerdo de Palenque.

Months after clearing what bulldozers and cranes have left

behind: with axes, saws, picks, shovels, short-handled hoes,

and machetes, dressed in their best — newsboys, fisherman’s

caps, fedoras and straw sombreros; single and double pocket

buttoned shirts, high-waisted trousers, pressed and cuffed; in

wing-tips, two tones, and romeos still gleaming from their last

shine — Juan sits (third row, far left) his hair parted off-center,

fingers interlaced, twenty-two years old, and the youngest of

them all. The foreman collects from each of them a few pesos

to pay a native boy to guide them to the Big Water, the House

of Nine Sharpened Spears, the Great Temple of Inscriptions,

where they’ll take group photos, until Juan splits off to trek

to the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Cross, walk

through the Palace courtyard, through the Temple of the Count

to the ball court. He’ll send home to his mother a letter written

in careful cursive by lamp light stating that he his wife, and two

children, who have made the journey to Chiapas with him, that

they are holding things together — a lie he’ll enclose with photos

and mail three states away, while his wife gets up to breastfeed

their daughter, whose cry in this moment, can barely be heard

above the constant uproar in the nearby jungle, full of darkness.


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