Michael Andrews Arts

See Announcements for details on publication of Archilochus poems in Arion Magazine.

Broadsides: Red & Yellow Door, San Cristobal de las Casas, 1979



Broadsides, Red & Yellow Door, San Cristobal de las Casas, 1979. From the project Riding South. It was San Cristobal de las Casas, the land of the pink serape. The Indians were a bit solitary, unapproachable in fact. I had just run in my brand new Nikes and the Indians knew for a fact I was loco. I went back out on the bike hoping for immortal shots and found this door. I believe I went left.

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Red And Yellow Door

San Cristobal de las Casas, 1979

58 Imagine someone pointing to a place in the iris of a Rembrandt eye and saying: The walls of my room should be painted this color
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I run every day, up the hill to the church
by the tile cross in the corner of the wall
by the barber shop with the big brass chair that the indians
never sit in
by the bodegas that smell like chicken and rancid fat
by the indian women saddled with this spring's child
by swarms of mobile children, and dogs with their tails tucked
by houses painted all the colors of the Standard Brands
paint sample book
by sherbet walls, raspberry, lemon, blueberry, orange and lime
by indians in bubble-gum pink serapes
by indians that have not smiled since the white god
blew in from the east
by indians that have not laughed since Landa the smiling
priest stacked all their books and all their gods
as high as any pyramid and burned them into ash
to make ink to write his own book

by indians as quiet as a history that has died.

The indians think that I am crazy.
They don't mind a bit.
They don't give a damn if I run or I am a moron
or a god or a gringo
or all of the above.

They aren't going to smile no matter what.

For two days I look at the indians looking at me like
the local Roadrunner cartoon or mushroom dream
and at the houses painted strawberry and mango and cherry
and I begin to wonder who lives behind those walls,
indians or conquistadores.

Every door is a dare.
Each door slams shut another universe.
It is never safe on the other side of any door.
I could open the door and step through
and fall a million miles
or be shot by an outraged Bedouin
or find myself on the losing team of a Mayan ball game
or there could be nothing at all
but endless, endless, endless black.

But you can't be sure of that.
It could be the Big Rock Candy Mountain
or Oz
or Never Never Land.
It could be the mythical gold city of Paititi.

So I always take the chance.

It could be the place where all the indians laugh.
They could all be in there chuckling
and grinning
and chortling
and smiling
and giggling
and guffawing.

In the world on the other side of this door
Cortes' boat sprung a leak
and him and his guns and the priests
drowned in their armor and their holy books.

I pack the cameras and tune the bike,
throw a leg over
and ride on down the road.

Imagine a door.
It is painted blood and lemon.
It is in San Cristobal de las Casas, 7000 feet
above the sharks.
It is on the corner of two one-way streets
and there are two arrows
pointing two directions.
You can go left, and you can go right

but you can't go in.