Tláloc, dios de la lluvia. Today is a day storm, mo thunder, no lightning. It was raining this same kind of soft, sad and smiling rain when he went. When he went with Abuela, climbing up to the top of something he’d never dreamed off. Cloud covered green in the distance. Valley lined and scratched, deep scar-memory streets of an ancient city carved into the green green earth. México of today and more than two million years ago. The city of Teotíhuacan, before the Aztecs, city where the gods were born. Home of the Sun and the Moon. Enormous pyramids, massive man made mountains. A thousand faces, beautiful beasts, gods. Heavy pilgrimage of people, still made to this place, keeping the steps and stones alive. Tourists like him, but people. Sweat, blood and breath. Some kind of offering to these old old gods, he thought. Many feet. Panting lungs. Mouths open. Flashing of cameras like lightning. Keeping the gods satisfied, for now. Content to be visited by the mixed and moaning children of their stretched out, conquered and crumbling, almost forsaken, almost forgotten futures. Living pasts in their lineage of blood. The sacrifice of children around the bases, beginnings and means to ends. Tears of children dripped into ceremonial bowls to build and bless them.
Luis almost cried. Tremendous fear of this place’s power. Tláloc, the rain god, was there with them. Soft wetness on the forehead, keeping the climb calm and cool. People died climbing these steps. The rain, Tláloc, was keeping him and Abuela conscious of the climb. The slick stones. One step after the other. Living. Slowly.
Abuela clutched her paraguas like a banister. Climbing up slowly. She walked down the steps backwards because of her knees. Her age, but she could still do this. In her heart and head this was some mix of a Catholic penance for the poor heathen souls sacrificed here. A penance for the brown of her skin, the silent suffering in her tha¬¬t longed for this place. Strange mix of her witchcraft ways, her Indian eyes, the water in them, not the pain of climbing but the truth of falling. Her fear, her certain fall from grace. Something racing, excited in her here when the tour guide told them this was Tláloc’s temple, the green of the mountains, the unending rains. Rivers. The fertility god’s power of flood and drought. A dryness in her. She remembered. Blushing up the side of the pyramids. She remembered what it felt like. Panting. She remembered. Heaven falling out of her. Onto the skin, all the gods in her, moaning. Sky falling. Dripping down the side of temples. The body was a temple, she prayed. She remembered what it felt like to defile it. To worship it with sex. To defile it, and like it.
Sun Storms In México.
Today is a day storm. Like the day they climbed. No thunder, no lightning. Same soft, sad and smiling rain. Something seductive in the smell of the Bugambilias bright pink-purple in Abuela’s garden. Abuela gone. Out to Church for some time, she tried to drag him with her, but failed. He stayed put watching the first drops of rain touch his window. And this is when he thought. He remembered. This is Tláloc, following me down from the temples, the sides of those pyramids, come to save me. Tláloc’s forever to his 14 year old body. His deep longing for love. His wild imagination. He knew that Tláloc was different. Not the fantasies and make believe of childhood. Nothing like Jesús and all his promises. Tláloc was real. As heavy as the clouds, as wide as those temples, as old as the earth beneath them, the waters dripping down. Constant, and pressing.
He knew this. He knew that Tláloc would be his lover, or bring him one. Though at his age he did not think or know that he could ever actually love a boy, that men could fall in love, hold hands and fit into each other. Kiss or know the taste of smiles, long lives or romance together. Tláloc was his only hope. Here in México visiting Abuela. Spending the end of summer with her here. Surprised by the everyday rains. The difference between here and the flat gray of Chicago with straight to the sky castles, pyramids to some god named Money. Here, the warm Sun god and then the soft-heavy showers, something constant. Bright colors and a greens he’d never seen before. A smoky, soft-sulfur, garbage and people, a corn kind of smell. Something about being up along the base of mountains. A lack of breath. This was the rainy season just getting started. He thought, I will make my offering to Tláloc in the jardín while Abuela is away. And He will come. He will come.
A million fingers, gold fingers touching his naked body among the potted plants, among the green. The 8 or 10 canaries in their cages all around the garden chirping to the clouds, singing with him, the whistling of his young heart. Cold but comfortable, his bare butt against the cool cement. The splash of puddles forming around him, his grandmother’s small cement garden, high cement wall with broken glass spikes along the top, reflecting the sun breaking in through the gray.
Abuela’s hair a thick gray cloud, short thick thick hair, all black and white waves. Heavy sky crashing, down the weight of her hands slapping his face, his naked nalga slap, slap face, slap nalga. She slips in the rain, her skirt soiling with the splashes. The fall from above, thunder of voices. His tears, his smiling, his calm calm crying. Something wet inside him let out in the excitement, for the first time. The first of many. Terror in his heart bursting, into calm warm wetness. His hands along himself, his hardness pointing to the clouds, to Tláloc when Abuela stormed into to the jardín a thousand cachetadas and curses. ¡¿Qué carajó haces, niño? ¡Que cochinadas! ¡Dios mío, no! ¡Ay dios! Slap. The splashing.
It never stopped raining those months after. Tláloc was smiling on his new lover Luis. And Luis would have to wait until waterfalls, camping with his new lover-boy in college back in the States. He’d wait his whole life for the one or two loves after. Deep deep, sacrifice and offering kind of loves. The kind he’d knew he’d have to wait for. The kind Tláloc promised. That stung like cachetadas. Soaked deep the bones.
Tláloc was smiling. And Abuela, well, she never mentioned it again. Said her rosaries and did her benedictions. Stewed in her kitchen, a little afraid of this devil-boy in her house. Something familiar and old about him. This boy-thing she loved. She needed. She could not condemn him, the way she had herself. The way she had the first time and forever after she had stopped her offerings to Tláloc too, with how many lovers, how many men in the night. While her husband slept. In that same jardín, she had tasted the rain of skin, her husband’s and other men’s. She had held their fury, thunder bolts pulsing in her palm. To her breast. Inside her. She had seen Tláloc smiling. His pink hanging swell of calm after. But she was afraid.
She hid her face under Church and shroud. She had forgotten and forgiven those sins a thousand tears after her Panzón had died. After she erased all fear of infidelities, fear it was her sin that had killed him. That everything in life could really come down to something as self-centered and ridiculous as self-suffering, Catholic guilt, for everything and anything bad in universe. What sin had she committed to deserve this boy? This beautiful monster. The feathers from the birds, the specks of birdseed, feathers and bits of soil stuck to his wet naked leg as she dragged him sobbing into the house. She thought of Quetzalcoatl. The feathered serpent. His face along the pyramids. Tláloc with his fangs. Neither they, nor this boy, nor anything inside her or her past could explain this curse. Something in this orange, red and yellow house. Something in the blood. Repetitions, the consistency of histories, time. Rain, and this kind of sadness. Sad, soft and smiling.
The Way to Words.
He could see a brown church out over the rising mountain, heavy mountain with many homes stacked on top of each other all along its side. With their white and blue and yellow sides, their red, gray and orange roofs, thousands of mouths open, windows with wide palms begging, streets with thin limbs and tangles of black black hair and specks of white and yellow around the eyes. Dogs dogs dogs. Sniffing in the streets. Scratching behind bitten ears. Fleas. Among the garbage. Panting. Begging. Begging. México with its mountain knees and breasts and hips bent over shoulders and the rounding off of wide belly hills, deep valley’s under blue-gray thighs.
He saw a magic in México, that only shown in the dark shadows after storms, the smell of smoke wet and tires soaked in stink, and everything hazy with a moist gray. Los limones on the limón tree out back looked a brighter green, and the yellow painted walls glistened a thick orange-gold. The purple Bugambilias and spinned nopales seemed a little overstuffed spitting out their pedals and spikes. Everything green seemed stretched out taller, and the soil in all the pots, black pupils sprouting bushes, thick branches tickling the sky to tears. Everything alive and wet. Even the church that hid its arched neck under spiny Crosses out on the mountain seemed to soak in some of the vibrant blue, it’s brown steeple seemed a little confused, full and fatter, under the clouds, it’s arches bent in awe of the rains. The other half of the mountain not yet stacked with houses, not carved with streets, was the lushest and saddest green he’d ever seen.
This is where he fell in love with a new god, some son of Tláloc who could keep him, warmer than the rain, longer than life or love. This is when he fell in love with words. And began to write. He began to write the forever of words in his heart. He had asked for a lover, for Tláloc to come, to love him. But instead of a body, flesh and beating heart. Tláloc came as the words. A flood and constant crashing of words. His first, last and only lovers.
Communications and Communions.
Something of witchcraft, he watched as she would throw a handful of her toenail clippings into the bushes, eggshells around the soul in her jungle of potted plants in the house and outside. Once he gained the courage to ask her why, and she said it was to help the roots grow strong like toenails and keep the seeds fertile like the eggs, or so he understood in his mix of Spanglish. Abuela really talked with her hands. He could always know what she meant and how she meant it by her hands. Pinches and slaps. Hugs and serving. Long fingernails perfectly cut and filled for hours con la fila while watching novellas or humming some witch chant she called the rosary. Perfect cuticles, not like his, a mess of bitten fingernails, dirty under-nails, hangnails that split up the finger stinging sour when he sliced limones for limonada, guacamole, or squeezed over carne. He learned to love that sting.
Abuela could always tell if he’d been eating enough fiber or if he needed more iron by the condition of hands, the fatness of fingers, the color or thickness of nails. She’d always slap him to stop biting his nails, to stop gnawing at hangnails. Buena gente no hace eso. Buena gente tiene los manos delgados, doblados, limpios y un poco debil.
But, despite all the care, creams and clippings, polish and filings, her hands had a wideness about them, a roughness that was less scratchy and more sandy, something heavy in the way she held pots, a flexing of muscles around the wrist that he’d never seen in any ones hands but hers, as she flipped and smashed and stuffed and swirled and sliced and pinched and pulled and peeled her way through the kitchen. She was a true witch in the kitchen, everything a spicy smoke, a sour stirring, simmering sweet, dark brown, red, white, yellow and green bubbling around her.
He loved to watch her cook. And so he learned how to cook. A new religion. The taste of words and the pressing of food, forks and spoons. Pens and pencils, became the way of all things. The only way to make it through the days until he would return completely changed. A new kind of monster, all pens and feathers, fish scales and snake fangs, smoke forks and espatulas for fingers.
The House on Bosques de Agua.
The more figurines added to the collection, the larger the army, toy soldier Saints and Virgenes to protect the house. Saints, Vírgenes and Jesús among the dirt. Hidden under flowers. Poked in the eyes and sides by nopales. Half buried faces brown with dirt. Once praying white, hands now black with mud. Abuela stayed in México with her flowers. In her jardín. Her potted plants all along the cement wall, concrete floors. Pots all in rows, pots hanging from pots stacked on pots. Green gray, brown clay. She stayed tending to her many plants. Her Rosas Negras, her tall long, pink tipped Floripondias, her round gold Copas de Oro, her lonely Niñas del Barco. Her Bugambilias y white specked colgando Corazón vines. Her pajaritos singing to the Orejas de Elefante. Her house quiet again, the clocks striking rhythms with each other, all three in the sala a tick 1, tick 2, 3. Los orejas de elefante listening to her mumbling rosaries. The birds singing to keep her company. She stayed alive to keep the plants and birds, the children and grandchildren that did not leave, did not fly away and reroot in a different country soil and sky. Drinking water safe to drink, they say.
The strange boy-thing that had invaded her silence, her routines, some summers ago was gone. Like the men that she had seen and stopped seeing, gone. Long before the vines started up her, the faint smell of fertility faded and turned to the smell of wet green, perfume and flowers. Soft scent of birds and birdseed like sand and pan dulce in the nose. Her Espinada Corona de Cristo with its four, small red flowers, four drops of blood. When she pluck the flowers, their white milk, sour smell. She watched the hanging shells, slightly swaying with the earthquakes through the years. The walls with generations, faces, daughters, sons, sisters, friends. Picture frames of her wedding, smiling, gray gold-tipped fading, cracked and crooked on the walls. Votive candles and the many statues of la Virgen, Saints and Jesús on Crosses covering the walls. Littering the shelves and table tops. The insides just as much a jungle of cluttered things as the outside with green. Vines inside and out of her, tilting everything. Crawling up her nyloned legs. Tickling the tummy. She laughted. When she died. She smiled. No rain.
Everything Left in His Name.
She fed the birds and remembered. Him sitting watching the feathers one morning. The rhythmic squeaking of one canaria with her feathers stretched up, mounted by an orange male. He sat watching, enthralled by their panting squeaks. No words. No questions. She pretended she didn’t see him sitting there staring. She knew that he knew. And he did. No words. 14 years old. He knew. And would start to know. Some secret of living. Some mystery of insides all coming out. The stretching. Panting squeaking of something hard, flexing inside. Something soft to something long, fat and rhythmic in us all. A throbbing in the guts, outward. No words. She discovered the mystery without explanation. No one had told her how or when or why, no one had told her with shapes and pictures, diagrams and long long names the way it would happen. It just did. Surprised every time. Some mystery of a thing when she bled, and some mystery of a thing when she got pregnant, when she gave them life, when they fell out of her like so many other things she had seen fall from fat furred or feathered creatures in San Martin, her home town.
Only prayers and jolts of things changed. The boy had come to México to change. To grow feathers on the chest, snake scales on the legs, nopal spikes on the chin. Turn something in between the legs into a warm nest and perch. A passion and a poison.
She lit candles that nigh and every night after the day storm, after seeing him sitting in her garden watching the birds. She knew this. She knew he would be a roaring thing. Insatiable, long-suffering thing like she was. Candles in his room, what used to be her children’s, even after he left. Waiting for him to return. And he would. Something in that house every summer and then every other summer until she died. He came to keep her company. To share the morning strolls, walks to church and to the carnicería. They shared those tremors only seen and felt by the hanging vines, the seashells on strings over the door, the wind chimes. The lights going out, and sitting with candles, un pan y cafesito for mirienda, moonlight and the silence they shared. So many storms. TV at night and Spanish lessons.
She’d leave him the house. It’s many secrets. The candles and the couch cushions he’d drooled on, but especially her jardín. Her green thumb, and the name of everything green he could ever see in life. All the names and secrets to keep them alive. She would leave in his name: White, Yellow, Orange, and especially Red and all its shades. She would leave him the feathers and the cages of canaries. All the figurines and their plastic eyes. The photo albums and all the frames would be left in his name.
Her House, Her Name.
He comes to take the home. To cry in the jardín without her. Tears over all the thorns, over her colgando white specked Corazón. He stays to spend the years in solitude, in hers and his. She taught him how to be a flower. How to blossom an amazing beauty that no one could have. Something that when plucked would wither and die. Something that could only, when alone. Stuck in its place. Staring at the sky. Open for water, half buried alive, but living. To be tough, and to keep the silence. To stay still within the solitude. Safe. Calm and strong in the solace. He stayed with the house. With her memory. Keeping the flowers and her alive, her altar always bright with something, flowers and candles. Keeping the plants. Watching the birds.
He keeps a journal where he writes his stories, his life unlived, among the many pages of pressed petals and leaves. Little maps of the way to a man’s hearts, into his pants, plant names, measurements to keep them alive, recipes for how to keep him and how to get rid of him when he gets too loud, too demanding. Keeping her name, her house the same scent, her flavors in the kitchen and mouth. Always on the end of his tongue, her name. In his kisses to the few lovers he’d ever bring to the house. In the goodbyes and the forever’s. The never, I love you’s. Her name. He keeps her name so much that he forgets his own. And one day thinks he is her. Wakes up and calls himself Sol, la Luna, la Lluvia. He keeps her name and calls himself, her. Calls himself her name, Soledad.
Soledad will learn to love. But will betray himself and his lovers, with words. Love affair with paper and pen, Tláloc’s son, his first and only love. He becomes Abuela’s secrets. The plants and the spice in her recipes. He feeds his lovers and sees them to the door. Their sacrifice of sex, their water into, his ceremonial bowls. He would be the housewife, cook for them, see to their needs. He loves it, the heartache. His freedom, his silence. Secrets. She had buried hers with the flowers. His in the page. Secrets that would crawl down legs, up the tears and out the tongue. Soft, smiling sadness. His words, the rain. His words, sweat, spice and birdseed.
Thank You’s to Tláloc
Thank you Tláloc, he prays. Whistling something long and up the spine from behind. Something about the way he thinks clear when pissing. The sound of liquid falling on liquid. The way he stands forever in the shower, inspired by the steam, the many touches of falling water, somber walks alone in rainstorms that conjure up the wild imagination, soaks him deep to write and love. Wetness of insides, the spill of himself into his lover. Moist excited throbbing of his heart, racing to tell. Thudding blood to eyes, hands to lips, to tell. To write. He becomes the falling rain. Every raindrop. Every storm. Tickles along his lover’s leg hairs, stomach and back. Sea and puddles. He becomes and undoes himself with every stroke of pen. The small spills, puddles and sticky wetness along his lovers side, spilling out from him, long hard moans. Every prayer of masturbation in his heart and his head. In his hands, the raindrops. In his hands, himself. In his hands, the tight hold around pens. The touching of his fingers slight and slender over lover’s skin. Around his and his lover’s dick.
Tapping away at keyboards. His keyboard, the sound of constant tapping on roofs and windows. Dripping into eyes. Cold over clothes. So the words and the water say, remove them. Naked under clouds, he is. Naked in the soul. He sits in his, and her jardín. Closed up tight so no one can see him out in the sun, out in the clouds. In the rain. Soaked. Writing. Touching himself. Like he was that boy again. Something new. Something terrible. He is that boy again gushing words and. His many dances. His many songs. His many deep moan prayers, offerings of cum up to Tláloc, to keep the rain coming. To keep the words falling from sky to his lips. Lovers from earth to palms and his hips. Fingers numb from all the typing. Tight tingles when inspiration comes, all forward flooding the forehead, gushing out heart and hand. Numb from the cold when he waits in rains for something and someone and some words to come.
His heart tapping time and rain deep down away, and into him. Out through palms and back in through mouths. Out through words. Back in again, water. He sits shivering in the puddles, shaking soul out from flesh. He is that boy again. He is that boy, staring up at her from the floor. Wet with himself. Dripping tears. Their loneliness together.
She taught him well, that love is only finding someone to sit alone with watching the rains.