Written in Stone (For The Sunday Whirl, 506)


These are some of the ancient tiny jars used for sacrificial blood offerings that washed up on the shores of the lake during the period when it shrank to 1/4 of its former size. 

Written in Stone

The rain came as an onslaught after years of drought,
splashing on the cobbles and washing pebbles out.
Cleaning out the gutters, pouring down the hill,
until those who’d prayed for rain declared they’d had their fill.
As it came down in torrents, first welcome and benign,
at first the people welcomed it. Saw it as a sign
that they’d been forgiven for ways they had maligned
Michicihualli, whose shrinking banks were lined
with sacrificial offerings—atonement for the sin
of years of people living there that they had thrown in
to feed the spirit of the lake and ask for what they wished for—
water for their crops and the silver fish they fished for.

But for years they had forgotten the history of the lake:
how grandfathers had slit their ears, blood sacrifice to make,
collected the drops in a jar and dropped it in the water,
to give it as an offering to its guardian daughter,
to thank her for her providence and calm potential ire
that made the lake reach heavenward in a colossal gyre.
To try to still the water and end its angry churn,
one-by-one they brought their gifts, her blessings to return.

But these practices had ended in this modern age
as the people let traditions slide and failed to set the stage
to present her with the symbols that by rights she’d earned.
So in retaliation, perhaps the lady spurned.
Split the heavens open and the rain poured down,
washing boulders from the mountains down into the town.
Walls and buildings leveled, cobblestones stripped bare,
stones piled up in piles high into the air.

One hundred years of fury washed down in only minutes
reminded all the people of those forgotten tenets
of giving back when given, and finally they listened
cleaning up the garbage until the lakeshore glistened,
restoring all her beauty to calm her angry rancor,
and giving other offerings to honor and to thank her.

These are the prompt words for The Sunday Whirl, 506: pour, drought, history, still, symbol, sign, week, slide, end, rights, onslaught and people.

Michicihualli is the legendary lady who dwells within Lake Chapala, providing all the bounty necessary that the people who dwell here need to survive. When I moved to these mountains above the lake twenty years ago, the lake had shrunk to 1/4 of its former size and a few years later, weeks of downpours culminated in the waterspout which rose up from the lake and dumped water onto the mountainside above me that had already been super-saturated, causing a huge landslide that brought boulders the size of cars rushing down the mountain arroyos, through the fraccionamiento where I live, ripping up all the roads, destroying walls and buildings, then down through the town and into the lake. It is said that this was the most recent example of hundred-year storms that had ravaged the area before, but after massive restoration efforts as well as legislation that has restored more water flow into the lake from dams further upriver which had been holding back the waterflow, the lake came up to its former banks. Now, this year, it has again been diminished to 1/2 of its former size. Hopefully, the rainy season that we are just now entering will restore some of that water. HERE is a link to an article I wrote about the devastation during that huge avalanche. Luckily, I lived exactly in the middle between two of the arroyos that had the most damage and although the water came to within feet of my house and houses a block on either side of me were demolished, my house went undamaged.


2 thoughts on “Written in Stone (For The Sunday Whirl, 506)

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