Alameda Park

Maureen Tolman Flannery


Mexico City

                           Diego Rivera painted three inquisition victims

                           into his depiction of Alameda Park.

Today lovers, too Catholic to take each other home,

caress with reckless ardor on stone benches

beneath leafy eucalyptus trees.  Pirated CDs blare

into jacaranda air as families stroll down pathways

where the stench of burning flesh once disturbed

the flight trajectory of jungle birds.


Hernando Alonzo was first.

The pyre that consumed him

set ablaze five centuries of hatred

that spread throughout the land being evangelized—

being told of a loving and merciful God.


Jews were unwelcome in a Spain

recently wrenched from its Moorish yoke.

Yet braving waves of unknown oceans could not save them.

Hernando Alonzo, a close companion of Cortez,

married Beatriz Ordaz, sister of Cortez’ captain.

Should such a couple not have been safe in the New World?


Yet who could be at ease when guilt was assumed of anyone accused

and anyone well-positioned could expect to be accused?

Hernando’s success made people uneasy.

Nor could devout professions of Christian faith keep them safe

for conversion was required, but always suspect.

All Conversos were soon banned from Spain’s newly-pilfered lands.


Nezahualcoyotl’s grandson was next to become burnt offering

to the Spaniards’ God of forgiveness, compassion,

next to serve as fuel to the wildfires of their zealotry.


Dona Mariana Violante de Carvajal would be among

the many women destroyed for being other,

reduced to firewood for adherence to her truth.

She was a crypto-Jew, so accused

and thus set ablaze in the very place

where we now buy grilled elotes

and absorb the gentle warmth of sub-tropic sun.