The Mayan Star Project

once upon a time

yes,once upon a time long long ago
we looked up at the sky
and we were inspired
the glory of the heavens
the twinkling of the stars
the movements of the planets

falling stars
we wondered
we were awed
some of us wrote poems
some of us wrote songs
some drew pictures
scherazade wrote 1001 stories
my grandparents read me the stories
i heard about the greek myths ,
the gods and goddesses
who inhabited mount olympus
hercules and chariots and diana
but alas, when i looked up at the sky

the best someone could offer me was the big dipper—the drinking gourd
which was good enough for the slaves in america to escape

but didn’t do much for my imagination

later when i looked up the constellations in astronomy books

i saw childish stick figures
where were the great heroes?

and when they did call an area of the sky a picture i could never really see it…

and nowadays in the over developed parts of the earth

we can no longer even see the stars

we have lost our visual antenna to the myths of humanity

until now

500 years ago …182, 625 days , 6191 full moons ago

before Cortes arrived in the Yucatan in the spring of 1519

and conquered Mexico 3 years later
the mayan civilization had mapped the stars
had chartered the movements of the planets
and had counted the days for 4700 years

they knew the cycles

and when the planets did something a little out of the ordinary

they made a story about it
as below so above
seemed to be their motto

with a few twists and incongruous juxtapositions

that only the sky can offer
mythical animals,skulls
the water pourer, pandora
men women children
in boats and canoes, in trees
thinking, fighting, making love
flying dogs,walking macaws
llamas, rattle snakes falcons eagles
turkeys, prairie dogs…
stoned out trippers
peyote rituals

shaman, axe wielding warriors
cowboys and hunters,
blood letting adolescents
drummers and flute players
dreaming women
dancing ducks…..
triumphant jaguars
wolfish priests

In 1562, july 12, fray Diego de Landa decided to burn

all the books he could find.
He would destroy all the superstitions
that these backward people
believed in he said.
The people were greatly pained

by the burning he noted.
At the same time the Spanish
prohibited the people
from making their own books-
made from the bark of the amate tree..
Lucky for us , one book —almost complete,

was spared the fires…

maybe de Landa brought it back to Spain

to show his superiors

what he had burned without prior higher approval,
or maybe it was entrusted to someone to hide
or maybe it was just brought back as a curiosity…

or perhaps Cortes sent it to
emperor Charles V as a present.
here is the book again
our ancient life
re stored. re storied
for the generations to come
who will see the stars again
and know the cycles and
perhaps, themselves