Poem notes: Coyolxauhqui

37 years has passed since the Coyolxauhqui's monolith was found in Mexico City, so I thought it was the ideal time to write some notes on a poem that was recently published in Stone Telling, a speculative poetry magazine edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan. "Coyolxauhqui" is free to read and listen –there's an audio version I recorded!– in the ST site.

  • This was my first poem sale ever and the first one I wrote in English. I was quite dubious about it (I still am, actually). Besides I'm not as comfortable with poetry as I am with short stories. But as José Luis Zárate, a Mexican SFF writer, used to say: "I'm not a poet and I have the poems to prove it."
  • Reverberations, ST issue 11, features only poets that were new to the magazine. I'm thrilled to share ToC with amazing new writers like M Sereno.
Stone Telling 11 cover

  • I was researching on Aztec gods for a short story when I stumbled upon Coyolxauhqui. I remembered the story of how she became the goddess of the Moon, but also the story of how her monolith was found. I thought it would be cool to have the myth and the facts mixed in a single text. How I ended up writing a poem instead of a short story? I'm not sure yet.
    • Coyolxauhqui and her 400 siblings (the southern stars) were furious because her mother Coatlicue (the Earth) had just been impregnated by a bundle of feathers. They considered it a disgrace and decided to kill her. But the new brother, Huitzilopochtli, was born with an adult body and fully armoured in order to protect his mother. Coyolxauhqui was murdered and dismembered: her body was thrown down a mountain and her head was tossed to the sky were it became the Moon.
    • This mythical story was very important for Aztec rituals of human sacrifice since Coyolxauhqui herself represented the victims. Her big monolithic stone was placed at the bottom of the stairs of Huitzilopochtli's temple in Templo Mayor were sacrifices were held and remained there for 500 years, untouched by the Spanish conquest.
    • In the wee hours of the morning of February 21, 1978, workers of the electric power company discovered a big, carved stone while digging for subterranean cable work. There she was, Coyolxauhqui, naked and fragmented, covered by a layer of soil; an 8 tons, 3 m in diameter goddess. Her discovery triggered the excavations project of Templo Mayor and many wonders of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan that are hidden under Mexico City.
"Coyolxāuhqui" by Drini - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

  • That idea of the Aztec deities emerging from the subterranean world into the modern Mexico City was represented by making constant allusions to the Mexico City Metro.
  • The Spanish lines in poem weren't originally translated. I added their English versions after my beta reader told me it would be kind of confusing for non-Spanish speakers. I ended up adding slashes in between both versions and I liked that outcome since I felt that my language had been slashed, just as Coyolxauhqui herself.
  • I know Rhysling nomination period is over, but I was quite happy that Lisa M. Bradley considered this poem in her eligibility post :).
  • As I said before, I'm not a poet, but I've been reading some speculative pieces of poetry that are amazing and that, definitely, make me want to write more.