The Soldier of Mictlán

Once upon a time there was a soldier
who marched to Mictlán in his soldier
boots and every step was a soldier
step and every breath was a soldier
word. Do you know what this soldier
said? I'd like a piece of bread for my soldier
hand. I'd like a slice of cheese for my soldier
nose. And I'd like a woman for my soldier
heart. The mayor of Mictlán saluted the soldier
and bowed his head as he told the soldier:
We have no bread, oh honorable soldier,
we hold empty hands instead. Dear soldier,
let us take yours if we may. And the soldier
held out his hand to be taken. Oh brave soldier,
said the mayor, cheese is your soldier
wish, but we have none since the other soldier
left. We whiff empty hands instead. The soldier
let the mayor sniff the scent of his soldier
palm. And forgive us, oh strong soldier,
said the mayor, but no woman worthy of soldier
warmth lives in our empty town. Will your soldier
eyes teach us wonder and kindness and soldier
love instead? Silence stiffened the soldier
face as a search ensued in the soldier
head for a moment one moment of soldier
bliss. But all was dead. The longer the soldier
looked the more the streets of his soldier
mind resembled the streets that his soldier
feet had taken him to: where no lost soldier
finds bread or cheese or a woman to be a soldier
wife. This was no space for a soldier
life indeed. So off to the hills the soldier
fled to seek out the place where a soldier
sheds the rattle that beckons the soldier
to death to soldier to death to soldier.

Rigoberto González, "The Soldier of Mictlán" from Unpeopled Eden. Copyright © 2013 by Rigoberto Gonzalez.  Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books
Source: Unpeopled Eden (Four Way Books, 2013)
More Poems by Rigoberto González