10 August

Jonathan & Rikki join us along the rear arcade of the Palace. High-up seats, us leaning back against pillars, to study thick unfamiliar foliage–lianas, lush green trees & vines, metallic whining of insects. The heat has me down. I listen from enormous distances as the others speak of cigar-smoking priest on the frieze at Temple of the Foliated Cross. Jonathan has his own cigar sympathetically lit–passes it to Rikki & photographs her smoking it savagely among ruins. Her hair runs in rivulets down the stone arcade. I scramble off my perch–down from the arcade, across the cropped lawn. Broken steps drop to the fast silver thread river–Rio Otolum. Bromeliads watch. Head thrust into clear, forceful, shockingly cold water.

Why did I expect tepid water–out of the steaming jungle? On the bottom mottled rocks & clear sand. Plunged my head in again and the water's force nearly threw me. Return to companions up on their smoking perch at the back of Prince Pacal's harem. A bandana to dry my hair and dislodge little pebbles where they've stuck in the whorl of one ear. At my departure a spider monkey shrieks–

    Temple of Inscriptions
    nine lords of the underworld–Xibalba–

      and when they opened the sealed stone passage
      down to Pacal's tomb
        several skeletons crouched at the portals
        set to serve
          Pacal in death

      clay pots, jewelry
      and supplies for the journey
        to Xibalba

Pacal's jade mosaic death mask was removed to Mexico City where archaeologists recreated his tomb at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. 1985 thieves got in & made off
      with the mask.

Drenched from humidity tourists labor their way in cloud-like formations up the Temple steps. A massive German man slung with cameras sweating profusely. "Aaach!" Grey rock & emerald color'd grass.

Spinescent palms, cycads, low-branched shrubs, lianas
scarlet blossoms
spider monkeys draped in the high blue canopy
the air a singing insect

My love crouches beneath
a clamshell green leaf
    to be photograph'd

Andrew Schelling | Leafcutter
Contents | Mudlark No. 9