Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, April 10, 2020

April 10: And we shall dance . . .

We traveled to Mexico City
on a honeymoon trip, long ago
and far away from today,
a time of seclusion.
On that sun-filled day,
we wandered through the garden
close to Teotihuacan,
and came across five men,
dressed in costumes, red and white.
They climbed a wooden pole
roughly 100 feet in the air,
and sat, somewhat balanced,
on a tiny wooden platform.
The leader, for I know not what else
to call him, began to play his flute,
and the four men, one for each
sacred direction, banded in silk and ropes,
leaned back and began
the slow descent down to the ground,
circling the pole some thirteen times,
their arms spread wide,
a miracle, we thought, the flute's high notes
echoing, their measured flight,
something so beautiful,
so inexplicable, caught between
earth and sky, the notes repeating,
the men circling.

Later we learned
that high pole was the World Tree,
and this was the dance of the flying men,
la Danza de los Voladores,
an ancient Mesoamerican rite, so designed
to appease the gods.
What accident led us to witness this ancient dance?
Why does this memory cheer me now,
for surely our prayers still reach
the ears of the gods?
And we shall dance yet again.

NOTE: For some reason, memories of this ancient dance came to mind as I thought about today's poem on Day 31 of this coronavirus quarantine, when I'd rather be traveling.  Here are the pictures I took of Los Voladores at Teotihuacan in 2001.

Beginning the climb

Notice the rope ladder

At the top, the flute player plays the notes

The men begin their descent

The men circle

The dance
Safe on the ground

For more history of this ritual dance, please see Wikipedia.


  1. Fascinating, Beth. And I loved the pics. We missed a Mississippi River cruise & an anniversary trip to a Central Texas B&B because of the virus but like you said.'we will dance again.' Nice poem.

    1. Thank you, Steven. This commitment to writing poetry for the month of April has its own challenges, not the least being we can't just leap in the car and go somewhere! But we still have hope. Stay well and look forward to the next trip.