A Postcard from Chimalistac

Simon Carnell

Jesuits have left their cliffs of gilded wood; Franciscans stone fronts of rock candy.

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Pet ferret with velvet collar in Coyoacán. An iguana on a shoulder in Querétaro.

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A man is walking draped in a carcass. Raw midday delivery from a flatbed.

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The Colt 45; the Remington; the actual desk at which the death sentence was signed …

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… the short and narrow painted coffin of Maximilian, scaled to a botched embalming.

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The saddle-topped stools in the saddle-bar are going nowhere at the cocktail hour.

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Cornering at altitude in the Sierra Gorda, a recent roadkill of headless wild burro.

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Standing room only, for a glimpse of the bloodied Christ with a head of human hair.

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Crutched and legless at the toll-booth, his proffered cup receives a splash of pesos.

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In its case in Chapultepec the (Madagascan) Emperor scorpion emits a turquoise light.

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Two night notes on a steam-flute: the camotes vendor on his rounds in Chimalistac.

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Cupped to drink the light, two hands out from under a rusted Lecumberri prison door.

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Ice-block on the pavement; jacaranda blossom roadside; sunlight on an electric fence.

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Yes waking hardly knowing if you’re here or there. Before the place clicks into place.

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CCTV; barbed wire; armed gatekeeper; Guadalupe in a niche. Someone is at home.

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A herbal tea, a cigarette butt; signs of the slept-over burglar in the empty apartment.