A la española el día entra pisando fuerte
—Octavio Paz, “Untitled”
We have no dancer to match the Spanish dancer.
We have no sport like the gold-plaid ceremony of bullfighting.
Day stumbles across the boards, a young ballerina, loses
her voice, the old wayang singer, for no one hears her sing.
The Emperor orders, “We will have singing and dancing,”
and singers warble his strain and dancers fall over his feet.
We snigger aloud at different volumes in different places.
We know we have no dancer to match the Spanish heat.
Day bends over hot factories and cold shopping malls
but all the water has been treated by treatment plants,
even the water in the river, by the Emperor’s order,
gargles in a cement throat and into the ocean rants.
So we watch in horrid fascination when one of us cuts
her throat in slow and fierce movement, to an order
implicit in the day the ball of her hand rises and falls,
to a voice that beckons from the center and the border
she sings back with an ancient absolute concentration,
the gurgling song redder than the robe of an Emperor.