To Chloe and Eva Sophia
We tracked the jaguar all night.
Now and then, he paused to observe us
with the eyes of a drunken sun. Elusive.
When we closed in, he was gone.
We went after him as in pursuit of a myth.
All the animals had died,
those not dead had been caged.
We were only missing the red jaguar.
We set out in pursuit of him at nightfall.
We lit up his face in the fastness.
The preyed-upon predator, we identified him
by the black spots on his solar coat.
Us, we burned copal,
set traps in his path.
We danced his dance
in feline face-masks.
We summoned serpents
out of myth and history,
those who pour phantoms from their maws
into the land of the living.
His amber yellow eyes
never stopped staring
through the bushes at
our eyes besotted with greed.
We raved out loud,
we had projects on hand,
a hotel to be built here, a golf course there,
a road, a discotheque.
Walking on the k’an che,
those stones that talk in the night,
we heard his deep-voiced
growls, the roars.
Along the macheted trail
the white dogs barked at him
under the dried-up tree
where he was perched
We went after him as far as the Cave.
In its labyrinth of entrances and exits
he lost us. Navigator of the nothing,
down the underground river he sailed on a log.
We hunted him through woodland and savannah,
through mangrove and mountain. His soul
traveled through the Milky Way. From the fangs
of the Plumed Serpent, Venus hung like a pearl.
He called upon his ancestral gods in the savannah,
howling at the death of the Jungle,
the Animals and Trees
in the Era of Extinction.
Yellow with light the old Tree
of the World was not far off.
With its necklace of mirrors and jade
was the Serpent conceived in the sea.
At the site of the Black Dream
the opened sarcophagus clanged,
out of it spirits emerge
talking like you and I.
“He’s going to come down here, the shadow
is leaping at us,” said the hunter.
But he did not come down, for the Jaguar god
went home to his throne of black stone in Chichén
There, while gorging on his prey,
we took him. We transferred him to a zoo.
Along all the spillways of noise
streams of cars tore down on us
The provoker of eclipses,
Lord of the Starry Night,
the Jaguar god, now
clapped into a cage.
Aridjis, Homero. “The Hunt For The Red Jaguar.” Poemas solares: Solar Poems. Trans. George McWhirter. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2010. pp. 55-61.