Spanish colonial doorstep reworked from Aztec stone sculpture
Mexico City, 1350-1521
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Make yourself useful, they said,
slapping you down for eternity.
You were the perfect size,
the foot that fit the slipper.
Your large-eyed look of the divine
met the earth in an unbroken kiss.
Mexican dust veiled your headdress,
seagreen stone as precious as gold.
Which is more lasting, the imprint
of a boot or of a face? Hands crossed
on your banded breast, you waited.
Your patience transformed fate.
When the colonists’ house tumbled,
the doormat became a goddess.
Then they put you into this case,
one step to a vanquished culture.
I am no artifact (I hear you say),
convenient for scraping your thoughts on.
Water and earth are my elements.
Watch out when I rise again.
— Angele Ellis
Angele Ellis lives in Friendship. Her poetry has appeared in Mizna. She was a prize-winner in the 2007 RAWI Competition for Creative Prose for “Desert Storms,” a chapter of a novel in progress.
Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday night at 7 on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.