Maize God Is Dead; Long Live Maize God

Time erodes all things, and new things, harder things, spring forth from their remains.

Old Maize God was made of orange-painted plaster. I bought him for a dollar from a wandering huckster kid at the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá and couldn’t work up the guts to toss him in the sacred cenoté. For three years, he guarded my garden from the likes of hungry wabbits, storm-felled trees and marauding bands of centaurs. But the winter of 2010 wormed its way through his plaster flesh, and he crumbled.

Young Maize God is carved from green-black jadeite, heavy and resilient as iron. I found him among the mazelike convolutions of market day in Chichicastenango, in the Guatemalan highlands. He’s done his best to take up the mantle of the old god—but come August, he and I must bid farewell to our much-loved little communal plot in the valley and travel east, back to the city, where fecundity will be restricted to a forest of pots on the back balcony.

Who knows what other change may come? Not I. Not he.

Happy solstice.


  1. Hey there–Happy Solstice to you too. Big changes in store, hm? (maybe for me too, don’t know for sure yet).

    I want to send you a card with a painting of Guatemala that I think would interest you-and I think the story behind it would interest you also. The address on your website still current?

  2. How nice of you! 🙂 Yes I am still at that address, at least until August.

    Funny–I just wrote a story not too long ago based on a “how this piece of art came to be here” folktale I heard in Guatemala.

    I hope you don’t have to move out of the valley too! Though of course change is not all bad.

    1. It’s on its way, but I don’t know if I can do justice to the story, since it’s not mine, but I can tell what I know if you like–but read the card first, though.

      I’m not moving (thankfully), but my best friend and housemate is trying to decide whether to move in with her boyfriend in September, and I will have to find a new housemate in that case. This is a big deal for a bunch of complicated reasons, and there are a lot of aspects that make me sad.

      Moving back to the city–it surprises me, knowing how you have related to this place, as described in your blog. Good luck.

      1. You are right—I love the country, do not love the city, and were it up to me would be relocating even further into the boondocks rather than away from them. Sadly, this is one of those changes over which I have not much control. I will survive.

        Good luck to you too with finding a new housemate!

        1. In exile, then. I know it is a minor sort of exile in comparison with the kinds of things that people must deal with the world over; still, small exiles carry the seed for us to imagine the exile of, say, someone permanently separated from their land and home.

          Thanks for your wishes. The rent is almost unbelievably low (my grandmother’s house, you see), so hopefully I will be able to pick somebody good. If it comes to that. Right now I feel rather in limbo, though.

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