When I abbreviate this city, it is to speak as one with millions of defeños– EL DF.
What I breathe in this city, I do not really know. My larynx admits oxygen and all manner of airborne particles – It doesn’t seem to bother me much.
When I cough in this city, some of them magically reappear.
If I die in this city, look for me in the pages of el gráfico – perhaps mowed down by a bus: – three pesos a pop.
When I eat in this city, it is with a porcine snout pointing my way from where it sits atop a shiny metal cauldron filled with bubbling fat.
When this city fucks me over – it is DF 1 (one) – Me 0 (zero) and I succumb to its force: the city wins – I am defeated.
When I gaze in this city, it is to the west at sundown- the sky filled with psychedelic, iridescent pink and orange hues.
What I hear in this city is the Oaxacan tamales vendor at 11pm and the whining female voice ‘se compra colchones, tambores, refrigeradores, estufas, lavadoras, microondas o algo de fierro que vendan’.
When I imbibe in this city, it is viscous, fibrous, pre-hispanic pulque which runs down my throat like the reverse phlegm of an Aztec ruler.
Tell a joke in this city, an albur/double entendre: dame la hora/ ¡ damela ahora! – give me the time/ give it to me now!
When I kneel in this city, it is on the kneelers of the Catholic Church thinking atheistic thoughts or silently deifying the sun, praying for everything to turn out…the virgin of Guadalupe peering down upon me.
When I look down on this city, descending to Benito Juarez International Airport blanketed in darkness, I see the enormous twinkling sprawl of the Valley of Mexico .
When I move in this city, it is inside the abdomen of a subterranean tangerine worm, pressed up against the flesh of a million other chilangos.
When the police nab you in this city, for downing a beer in the street, let’s say, near the Angel de Independencia monument on a Friday night, when you’re new to the city and don’t know the laws – feign ignorance!: NO hablo español. Still I had to play the game. I reached into my pocket and paid a little bite.
Overworked and underpaid in this city, minimum wage sixty seven pesos a day – dollars five; comida corrida (set meal), transit two ways, wage almost gone, never mind the rent and hungry little mouths.
If I park a car in this city a viene-viene (come-come!) man will wave me in, watch over the car and seek my peso coins.
When it quivers in this city, we collectively hold our breath and rush to the chaotic but safe street.
When it rains in the springtime in this city, raindrops are dyed purple by jacaranda flowers before they reach the ground.
While I sleep in this city, the city never does; ambulances roar through the murky dawn with cameramen and photographers chasing in pursuit of macabre images while mariachis serenade long into the night at Plaza Garibaldi.
When I’m threatened in this city, I’m foolishly on the streets of Tepito – barrio bravo [tough ‘hood] – drunk at 1am with my light hair naked for all to see, blue eyes bulging out my head and pesos protruding from my jeans.
When I use my phone in this city, it is with credit I buy at OXXO: pesos leave my hand and land in the till, which I assume has a direct chute to Carlos Slim’s fat pockets.
If I vanish in this city, paste my photo to a metro wall: dimensions and complexion.
When I walk in this city, it is on buckled and cracked sidewalks sinking inch by inch into the mushy land above old Lake Texcoco and with taco vendors shouting at me ‘cuantos te damos güero?!’
XXX in this city: – seedy cinemas, transvestites on Tlalpan Avenue, orgies in the Institutional Revolutionary Party Office with an obese prostitution ring leader , hookers pimped around the Merced Market.
Dogs yap in this city, running through barrios with rabid flesh, looking for taco scraps or a corner heap of rubbish to attack.
When I zigzag in this city, it is walking down eje central – just one in an epic throng, trying to make some time – to make it home to catch some Zs and start at A again.