Popocatepetl is breathing fire
sending ash over the broken back of the city
and a rumbling underneath that nobody notices.
The people know a thing or two about disasters,
natural or otherwise.
The square is always full of tarps and banners,
smoke rising from old cookstoves,
the smell of unwashed bodies and tortillas.
Teachers and truck drivers have come
from homes far away to camp here
in the shadow of Parliament on the hard stones.
!El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!
they shout over and over as they march.
The people! United! Will never be defeated!
They set up camp that spills out over the square
like the contents of a drawer overturned.
Defiant and tired, they lay their heads down
on the cobbles and listen for rumblings.
It’s only smoke and ash, there is no molten river
coursing down the mountain to purify
everything in its path. The tarps gather dust
and soot, tourists and businessmen walk by
without a glance. Nothing changes
until the rains come and wash a trail
on their faces like tears and turn the ash to mud.