In the voice of Cortez’ mistress

I’m taking a break and highlighting some classic posts from my first full year of blogging, 2004. Here’s a poem in the dramatic monologue mode, written under the influence of Ai with some imagery borrowed from translations of classic Aztec poetry. (Please click through to read the whole poem.)

Malinche, A.D. 1522:

No rain of flowers marked my entry into the world.
I wasn’t born onto a shield or draped
in a robe of feathers. My own mother
sold me in secret & celebrated my funeral
with the substituted corpse of a slave.
I ended up serving the lords of Yucatán,
on the eastern shore.

Four years ago, when Hernán Cortez came back
from setting fire to his ships, slipping
like a thief into camp, I was waiting in
his tent. We understood each other
from the first, before I could speak
one phrase of Castillian. We had
the same hungers.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Thank you for sharing this poem, and for the introduction to the work of Ai. I’d not heard of her before.


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