Toltec Atlantes, Tula de Allende, Hidalgo state, Mexico
Warriors Atop Pyramid B
by Jeannie E. Roberts

Columns of basalt rose unforeseen as if P. strobus
grew atop plaster flat — here, in Mexican state

of Hidalgo, sixty miles northwest of Mexico City,
amid semi-arid climate,

breezes swayed your cotton dress in ancient city
of Tula. Familiar with continental climate

and strong stance of Wisconsin white pine,
you were new to this Mesoamerican archeological

site and the stone sculptures that towered over you —
it was 1978, summer, when your twenty-one-year-

old self stood before Toltec warrior. Five levels
of limestone, Pyramid B, Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl,

supported five warriors: four inanimate figures
with atlatl and an animate one with camera —

though at the time, you’d no idea you were the fifth.

PHOTO: Toltec figures atop the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, Tula de Allende, Mexico by Natalia Lukiyanova, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Tula de Allende (Tula) was capital of the Toltec Empire (around 980 CE and destroyed between 1168 – 1179). The four, carved basalt statues are 13-feet high and originally used as support columns for the temple roof on top of the pyramid. Tula was considered a significant regional center, known for obsidian mines and agriculture. The word “atlatl” (from the Nahuatl language) means spear-thrower, spear-throwing tool/lever and “Quetzalcoatl” means “precious serpent.” When I lived and taught in Mexico City (1979-1981), I visited many Mesoamerican archeological sites, including Teotihuacan.

PHOTO: The author in Tula de Allende, Mexico (1978).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is also the author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) and Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book dedicated to her son (author-published, 2009). Her work appears in print and online in North American and international journals and anthologies. She holds a B.S. in secondary education, M.A. in arts and cultural management, and is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the StairsWhen she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings. For more, visit her at