August 4 · San Cristóbal de Las Casas

Entered the city named for 16th century priest Bartolomé de Las Casas. Bartolomé spent forty years trying to impede conquistador atrocities through the region, then returned to Seville & a published book, 1552, alerting Spanish authorities to gruesome unchristian acts. "I would write a very big book, but this will have to wait till another time. God willing." Hence Brevissima Relacion, the quick account, into print without clearance from Inquisition authorities–

We twist through wet cobbled streets, get lodging where the old town gives out. Na-Bolom (old Maya: jaguar) is a former convent. Cool arcades with deep rooms set around a courtyard. Hans & Trudi Blum, German archaeologists, bought the building decades ago. Now it's an institute for culture research & ecology. Various Maya and student gringo activists run it. Library, dining hall, artifact rooms, office, & planning center. Wild potted plants in the corridors. Old photos and up-to-date maps of Lacondon rainforest cover the walls. Out back under dripping pines they rent a few cabins.


Anne & I set up candles. This is the rainy season, cool at night, lanterns along narrow muddy paths. Our clay hut oozes into the soil. I dismantle wood slat bed to get the enormous spider, violet-brown leg hairs, who ran off one pillow when we opened the door. Set her free among nameless leaves where an orchid pot crumbles to mud. And imagine back of feathery pine bough's mist & drizzle, home's familiar moon. Light the fire, get into bed.

That night in my notebook–

      Arms scarves
      candle shadow ebbing it flickers
      over your breasts

      here's tequila from a cold bottle
      I could live
      many lifetimes under a damp quilt
      listen to armored trucks rattle the streets
      stoke a fire with you

      dark nipples
      I want them for aeons
      pitch-pine twigs crackle
      the roof lets in rain

Andrew Schelling | 5 August
Contents | Mudlark No. 9