I have finished the Kingsolver novel. What a powerful book. Stalin’s regime was evil. But the sins committed in the name of anti-communism were also horrendous. We are still in the same bind. Evil done in the cause of goodness.
Even if I had never been to Mexico I would have enjoyed the book in its own right as a novel. But I have seen the powerful Rivera murals in the National Palace in Mexico City. Who would not have liked to have mixed the plaster for the master painter? And I’ve also seen the pyramids at Teotihuacan just outside Mexico City. where Kahlo and Shepherd had their picnic, the crux of the novel. I did not like the spot – the knowledge of human sacrifice lingered in my thinking and buzzards still circled there.
As I usually do I bought books about the history of the places I’d visited. The conquest of the city by Cortez I could understand – colonialism rampant. But the Aztec way of life remained cruel and repulsive. Their theology was beyond my ken.
Shortly after my return to Wellington I attended a two day seminar on management training. I found this new theology equally mysterious. In this poem I attempt to portray that late 1970s bewilderment. Irony of ironies - on the seminar wall was a Rivera print.
Through cigarette smoke, a lecturer’s monologue,
Rivera’s burdened Indian dominates the room.
A systems approach is a tool and a way of thinking
‘the morning star, the breath of life, the Quetsal serpent’
presupposing the recognition of a series of relatives
‘place their hearts before the breastplate of the world’
eliminate premature conclusions
‘nine hells and thirteen heavens’
function flow block diagram
‘heron feather headdress’
‘the mirror that smokes’
cost benefit profile
‘the eagle that soars’
concept and process
‘our lord the flayed one’
‘the god of corn is born’