Homero Aridjis

The nature of a river is to run

and its verb: to flow.

They have poured down from the sky,

the rain and the hills,

their currents swollen with toads and blood, willows and thirst.

Some were spawned in love beds

by mortal women,

giving birth to clans and champions and dry everyday men

who carry them in their names.

They are portrayed as a green body,

legs entwined and arms spread wide,

a changeable mirror that reflects an eye

of fresh water that eddies swiftly away.

For the people’s adorations

a small altar was their due – not a temple;

oxen and horses thrown in for sacrifice,

maidens garbed in the raiment of a goddess

with a yellow face.


Before, sparkling rivers ran

through this green valley;

ash grey, chestnut and opaline; rambling,

purple and dull brown,

easily shattered, they squalled and clamoured

down from the steaming mountain

onto the lazy plain

touching on early Tenochtitlán.

Today they groan, thick with black water

and swollen with shit, shrunk into conduits,

ridiculous rivers without banks – their docked tails

reined into lanes raging with cars, hurtling

down through the deflowered city,

reaching their mouth in lethal lakes

and the scarred sea that no longer loves them.




Aridjis, Homero. “Rivers.” Eyes to See Otherwise: Selected Poems = Ojos, de otro mirar. Trans. George McWhirter. Eds. Betty Ferber and George McWhirter. New York: New Directions Book, 2002. p. 203.

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