Transformacion de Lineas
Below Puebla and Veracruz, below decency and fairness,
and Chiapas, between dreaming and waking, the cloud woman of cloud people stands; cloud woman mountain with secrets
whispering in cloud shadows, this cloud woman is bloodshed memories, memory mountain diseases avalanching death, pestilence
convulsions burying indigenous martyrs of sun and moon, on account of the arrogance of el Norte insisting on deleting decency
from the bottom line, factoring in suffering as part of freeze trade, factoring in servitude, sickness, slavery, starvation...
Between hot sand beaches and cool cloud forests, between broken treaties and broken hearts, between empty promises and empty
stomachs, Donya Berta, tall as a ten year old, worked all day, dawn to dusk, in tropical fields where the sun beats
so hot you forget you've been tired for two or three generations, you forget everything, you forget nothing, you remember
you used to dream-now you are simply tired and go wearily on, so you might as well campesina, walk where there might
be money, because here in Oaxaca, at 5,000 feet you are closer to the sun than you are to a paycheck...
Between the Sierra Madre de Sur, and the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, between the rain forest and the cloud forest, between the
left of Berrigan and the right of Bush, between dream and nightmare, between Temascal and Wounded Knee, between Vietnam and
Iraq, she walked here, this cloud woman from Mixteca, she walked here, twenty-one hundred miles to sell gum in the hot sun,
all day in the hot sun, with skull smiles of sterile northern speculators mirrored in sun glasses of touristas de muertos,
waiting to cross la frontera in cars burning gas looted from war in the middle east where the same machine that butchered
her ancestors now butchers & burns with impunity...
Between Morales and Chiapas, between the eagle and the venom snake, between 1988 and 2008, between the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund, between the death of CONASUPO and the birth of NAFTA, between the Rio Grande and Rio Papaloapan,
indigenous people suffer, when the border mayor's wife picked a teacher to teach the donya's women how to operate sewing machines,
there were eight machines to make traditional and modern clothes, covered with orange macramé cloth, and a beige turtle
for sticking pins, and up to five spools feeding the machines, feeding hope, cheating the malquiladoras; but some of the small
spools stood empty like the stomachs of small children in Oaxaca, and Guerrero, and Chiapas.
And you, sitting there, reading this poem, between your warm home and your three hot meals, between your compassion and your
contempt, between your wonder and your worry, between your empathy and your apathy, did you know these tiny, ancient Indian
peoples are between the gag of Lady Justice and the bribe of brutal fascism, between the back stab of the World Bank and the
throat cut of the International Monetary Fund, between the anchor of Donya Berta and the edge of the sweat shop cliff, the
Mixtec people hold on to her hard won wisdom helping her people not fall over the edge to the waiting sweat shop 15 hour days,
no breaks, no hope, 10 dollar days, no health care, no respect, no rights, no hope because the boss said no money this week...
The teacher of the machines is gone, the grant money the government of Mexico claimed was there to help the Mixteca sew their
own clothes for sale is gone, was this a ploy to manipulate Indians to sweat shops? Or was this a bureaucratic miscalculation?
Between the hard-line of neocon foreign policy and the soft touches of a Mixtec mother's love, between workers rights and
corporate insouciance, between compassion and common sense, we know better and have too much abundance to ignore exploitation
of the weak, the poor, the disenfranchised-like in San Diego, when they put the freeways in, they went after the homes of
the poor in the barrio, because the poor didn't have resources to fight the pirates, parasites, goons, and carpetbaggers,
We have too much heart to dance while those less fortunate can only crawl, to feast while the poor starve, to avert our glance
from a table, un mesa del Sur, with the main course stomachs hurting from hunger, and a second dish of baked injustice- the
mole from Oaxaca graces the tables of most in Mexico and El Norte, created by the Mixtec, it is a national food on Cinco de
Mayo, the day a mostly Indian army defeated the conquerors, it is no accident that mole is the color of blood, and it is blood
that has painted the borders, transforming the lines, transformacion de lineas.
Jim Moreno Spring