My visit to the Maya ruins of Tulum came about as a wonderful bit of travel serendipity during a sailing sojourn to Isla Mujeras. My friend and I took a ferry from the island to the mainland and rented a car to drive down the Maya peninsula to the archeological site. Rain pelted and the streets flooded as we crossed Cancun and made our way southward. Harrowing — as Tulum once was for sailors approaching from the sea.
Tulum is unique among Maya sites: it is the only one of the ruins on the water. That day, after the rain softened to mist, we ventured along winding paths past stepped-structures reaching into the sky. We could hear waves breaking before we came to the precipice overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The poem describes one of the historic edifices, as well as the use the people made of the treacherous shallows. I hope that you enjoy reading “City of Tulum.”
City of Tulum
A veil of constant rain cloaked Tulum
perched high on a cliff above this ancient Mayan port
where ships with hulls of treasures were guided into shallows onto reefs
where once Mayan priests
ritualistic keepers and writers of knowledge astrology and cultic rites
climbed wearing long robes their heads drooping plumage
climbed close to their gods in the sky
where a still beating heart pulled from a chest fed the gods’ hunger
where shadows cast ominous stains on an altar.
I search the ruins of Tulum
for what lingers ghostlike in the mist.
At the precipice above fishermen casting nets from small boats
my feet cling to the edge high above the sea.
waves assaulting shore
in stunning agony.
Check out the journal: Orbis International Literary Journal.
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