How to Look at Mexican Highways

By Mónica de la Torre Monica de la Torre
1. You are not going anywhere.
         1.1. No one is waiting for you.
         1.2. In case someone is waiting for you, you can always explain
                the delay later.
         1.3. Blame it on the traffic, no one else knows that you chose to walk.

2. Don’t look at the pavement, look at the things that you don’t see
    when you’re indoors.
         2.1. Water towers.
         2.2. Cables.
                  2.2.1. Cables bringing other people’s voices and faces onto
                           TV monitors.
                  2.2.2. Cables bringing electricity to light bulbs and
          2.3. Laundry on clotheslines.
          2.4. Empty cans of food.
                  2.4.1. With flowers growing out of them.
                  2.4.2. With cactuses growing out of them.

3. Feel the waves surrounding you.
           3.1. Waves bringing other people’s voices to the speakers of your
                  sound system.
           3.2. Waves of street sounds.

4. Measure how fast you can run up and down staircases; compare that
    to the speed of the cars driving by.

5. When you tire, stand in the middle of the overpass.
          5.1. Look down.
          5.2. Try to look ahead, attempt to delineate the city’s skyline.
                    5.2.1. If there’s too much pollution, look down again.
                    5.2.2. Hold on tighter to the rail.
                    5.2.3. Stay there a bit longer; remember no one is waiting
                              for you.
                    5.2.4. You’re not going anywhere.

6. Through the rails you will see stories unfolding on the street.
          6.1. Pay attention.
          6.2. You are not they.
          6.3. They are not they.
                   6.3.1. They are one plus one plus one, indefinitely.

7. You’re surrounded by monads going somewhere.

8. There is a purpose to their movement.

9. Desire is a Federacy.

Mónica de la Torre, “How to Look at Mexican Highways” from Talk Shows. Copyright © 2006 by Mónica de la Torre. Reprinted by permission of Switchback Books.

Source: Talk Shows (Switchback Books, 2006)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Mónica de la Torre

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Mónica   de la Torre


Poet, translator, and scholar Mónica de la Torre was born and raised in Mexico City. She earned a BA from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and, with the support of a Fulbright scholarship, relocated to New York in 1993 to pursue an MFA and a PhD in Spanish literature at Columbia University.
With dark humor, de la Torre’s poems explore our constructions of identity and trajectory. Her full-length poetry collections . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Mónica de la Torre

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.