La Chingada

"Her passivity is abject: she does not resist violence, but is an inert heap of bones, blood and dust.... This passivity, open to the outside world, causes her to lose her identity: she is the Chingada. She loses her name; she is no one; she disappears into nothingness; she is nothingness."
-- Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude

I have seen her in twilit alleyways
picking through broken bottles
I have seen her climb the sky at sunset
in smoke and clouds

I saw her one late afternoon
sitting on grass atop a pile of mown clippings
Her dress ash-grey, tattered
Her hands wrinkled and calloused
Her neck rough and loose
And the strips of her dress
could not hide the unfading
red marks on her thighs
nor the scars across her breasts

I heard a rumbling in my stomach
and sat next to her, looking
to distract my thoughts
We said nothing, but knew each other
and I wondered if our kind
was all of womanhood
or simply those full of vain pride

I searched her face, which,
unlike the rest of her was
soft, and simply tragic
Her round dim eyes hid some secret fire
that in the rest of her was
only ashes