Badland: arid, desertlike, inhospitable land: without water or vegetation;
commonly covered by lava.
Francisco J. Santamaria, Dictionary of Mexicanisms
Yesterday the air cleared suddenly
and the mountains were reborn.
Centuries without seeing them. Too long,
only knowing that they were there,
Iztacíhuatl—caravan of snow.
or crucible of lava in the cavern of a dream.
This was the city of mountains.
From any corner you could see the mountains.
They were so visible you didn’t
notice them. We only truly realized
the mountains existed when
the dust of the dead lake,
industrial wastes, the cruel toxin
from the incessant millions of vehicles,
the shit in atoms
of the many more millions of the exploited,
brought down an unbreathable curtain
and the mountains were no more.
can you see the huge blue Ajusco.
It still reigns over the valley
but housing developments, wreckers, and what’s worse
are doing away with it.
For a long time
we thought it invulnerable. Now we know
our immense destructive capacity.
When there is no one tree left,
when everything is asphalt or asphyxiation
or badland, stony lifeless ground,
this will once again be the capital of death.
In that instant the volcanoes will born again.
The great cortege of lava will descend from above.
The inert air will be covered by ash.
The sea of fire will wash away the ignominy
and soon become stone.
A plant will sprout among rocks.
When it blooms, perhaps in the desert
od death new life will begin.
Eternally invincible, there they will be fixed—
suns of lava, stars of rage,
centers of everything in the frightening silence—
axes of the world, the horrible volcanoes.
Pacheco, José Emilio. "Badland." Trans. Linda Scheer. Selected Poems. Eds. George McWhirter and José Emilio Pacheco. New York: New Directions, 1987. pp. 181-82.