by Aidan Andrew Dun
I made an atavistic pilgrimage to Tulum in the Yucatan peninsula, atavistic because I was raised in the West Indies, very much part of the Meso-American world. Tulum, with its hushed jungle sanctity and ominous pyramid, left me full of wonder and dread, and later, meditating on the significance of the site I came up with the strange notion that Cape Canaveral, further up the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, and Tulum itself, served similar purposes, in the sense that both sites were and are concerned with launching humans into space, admittedly different kinds of space…
From mission-control overlooking green Yucatan
they launched the victim with red fuel of his blood.
Tracking an astronaut in skies of after-existence
they stole from the future the system of the long-count.
A day was brought back in time as echolocating
limestone observatories in jungle revolved. By moonlight,
On white roads of mass-pilgrimage moving soundlessly,
millions of travellers and spectators dreamed of flight.
Simultaneously bees in wax capsules hummed,
voicing appropriate worksongs of the countdown.
The silver-clad giant scanned readout on metal skin,
prepared to measure the circumference of the unseen.
Everyone recognized the iconic chromium candidate
with the earth reflected in his visor, the victim.
Surrendering to acceleration lift-off commenced
to the afterlife of no-choice, the next dimension.
Five gravities came down like a sky-blue knife
in the time of the unluckiness of the ascent.
Here was the first man lost in another atmosphere:
the launching of a chosen one to the exoplanets.
The Aztecs were rising. Immolations were timetabled
as the people multiplied, kept themselves in readiness.
A cruel tongue, the wailing language of calculus,
demanded the maximum offering, the greatest spectacle.
Numeration was taking-over. Abstraction, the heartless,
made the table-in-the-sky run with entrails.
From a platform over the rainforest, near the coast,
from an altitude of approximately sixty-seven miles,
They saw the Spaniard coming in five hundred-years,
sailing with his cross uncircled, meaning: materialism.
Greed for alien soil and calendrical magic,
in orientation identical, both served the insatiable.
Desire killed need! In an orgy of mathematics
everything was borrowed from a sum unrepayable.
Fear of the future became infectious, each day
acquired separate codified names, peculiar diseases.
Astronomer-kings invented a dystopian paradise
where launch-towers and cold gantries outstared the sun;
Where real-estate merchants swallowed-up solar-systems,
hybridizing and cross-fertilizing the galactic races.
The priest-kings took advantage of uncertainty,
that swerve of rage in the wilderness of yesterday
When fear was a crocodile in the canals of Sian Kaan,
And now it is the sacred mother’s house on fire
as the son defiles her atmosphere with thrust.
Note: Sir Isaac Newton once threatened to burn down his mother’s house with her inside.