Chris Holdaway

Time in México
para Jorge F. Rivera

I speak Spanish in the same way that I understand
I will die one day.      Talk about it – in polite
company, ad hoc, and forget more or less
turning into morning unable, as it slips away without trying.

This owes to typical way of escape—I go to make a home
in the new world and of course
it’s the oldest sight
I’ve seen : the sun is there then
skips away across grades of sand, leaves you without even
the cactus or smog and just a certain marvel at how
conquest takes in the names;
Cuitláhuac &
Cuauhtémoc . . . thy feet in the fire.

I have just spent Christmas Day alone in Mexico City,
along avenue Reforma – usually the world’s largest parking lot
but today I am the only person..

God in the Federal District
leaves nuclear fission seeming cumbersome
and a few concrete bollards enforcing the odd one-way street.

Everything is, of course, so entrenched.
My age, such that I never hold on to the word for knife; rumours
that a secret few blocks in the sandstone cathedral are burned
with rosy ankhs.. —a dry afternoon
spent in one of those
cities of the dead; quickly transmuting water into agua
and vice versa – between ruined temples of the sun and the moon.

And el aire is filled with words the same as my school friends;
and somehow I have lost all my old memories;
light in the water of a pond always once removed.



Jaime Sabines (1926 – 1999), a translation from the Spanish

and creaks beneath the weight of breathless love,
but my bed is a motionless boat
that takes me where I want to go.
It carries my solitude better than I myself
and knows my dreams
and takes pity on me.
My bed is almost a cloud,
it’s a carpet for the footfalls of my heart.

In half-light, or in darkness,
in my bed I meet my wife, my children, my books,
my memories, and my cigarettes.
And I come across God, sometimes,
in the light of an afternoon like this,
that kisses closed eyelids with its fingertips.

I love my bed because I rest in it as in my death
and there I feel how life may yet triumph.

I am thankful because I have a bed
and it’s the same as if I had a river,
just the same.



By Chris Holdaway

(Auckland, NZ) is the author of HIGH-TENSION/FASHION (Greying Ghost, 2017). He received his MFA in poetry from Notre Dame, & his MA in linguistics from Auckland University.