Taylor Graham
A History of Mexico, 1985

Where X-axis collides
with Y, vertical reinforced concrete
cracks against that uneasiest
sleeper, Earth, tossing-turning
on her bed of tectonic plates.
From opposite coasts you and I came
together, teamed to find
survivors among 18 million souls
who lay down in their bodies
on a dry lake-bed. How many
never woke up?

Example: that apartment building
which before the quake stood
15 stories high, 10 apartments to each
floor, now pancaked, with
so many mothers, fathers, children
behind every jammed door:
how many humans compacted
in a stinking pile—
you pulled on your helmet, ran
ahead of us, not caring
if it was the wrong steps.

A languid toxic smoke rose,
water-doused smolder of hair
and burned mattresses, floral blouses,
appliances and pin-striped
suits. A barking mongrel who survived
with just an eye gouged out
guarded his smashed home and family,
wouldn't let you in,
though you begged in all your
languages, even

After that, you slept as fitfully
as the rolling hills
of home. Nights did you dream
in Spanish, asking of each ghost
its name? What histories they wrote
on your face. I imagine you standing
at the mirror, puzzling each new
line; then going to sleep again,
reciting to each ghost its deeds.
So do I, turning
the pages that they read.