For Chicano/as on May 5th


Warriors of the spirit,
peaceful ones,
I ask your permission to speak
and if you will hear me
understand I come to you as a guest in your house
imperfect in my knowledge of you
but feel your thoughts
and recognize the strength of your anger
as it announces your hunger for harmony
and your longing for a home.
Within you
the horrors of history linger and
the simple lives your fathers and mothers
blend with the intensity inherited from
deaths of civilizations, betrayals and terror.
When I think of Cortez and the Aztecs
I see it through Azteca eyes.

Men who were bright as ice
came at a time when
the dim memories of snow
reminded them of a cold salvation.
They dreamed each night of gods
who returned, prodigal like, to
claim their inheritance and to rebuild
entire cities of blood.
The Toltec lineage, those kings like brilliant green birds,
rose in their throats,
and they dreamed of the Mexica within them,
fighting against a whiteness they could not imagine.
In the morning the gods of winter
took the people from their sleep
and Cortez introduced them to steel.
Later the smallest soldiers invaded their bodies
tiny slices of death --
the swords of pox and cholera.
The great kings and warriors haunting their blood
fought enemies so powerful as to be invisible
until the children were wrapped in brown scabs
and the old people were wrapped in dirt.

The earth that claimed them
with forgetfulness gave them
a long night without sleep and
you were given the three faces of the Chicano:
the Spaniard, the Indio, and the Mestizo --
the father, the mother, and the child.

Tenochtitlan, jaguar skinned city, the breath of gods
swept your streets clean. The gleam of jade eyes blazed up
in green morning light and
flickered across the face of the dead.
But a feathered serpent rose from their mouths.
The Toltec and Mexica hovered in their blood
as they waited for a release from the silence.
Now, on the fifth of May,
you make artful people,
recreating in yourselves a reconciliation of the three faces.
All La Raza vibrates in your bones;
the earth trembles with your dance
and in your trance Mexica dreamers
bloom visions. The spirit rises
like a feathered serpent while
Toltec blood reddens the sky at dawn and at sun set.

Here, in this very place, Aztlan is reclaimed.
The wandering of the Anasazi ends,
and they return to their pueblos. Soft night
lingers in the shadows cast by your bodies.
The way of the sun invests itself in you,
and history collapses into each of your acts;
each word transforms spirit into flesh.
El plumaldo Cornaldo, that bright being,
lifts you from the earth until
you are testing the air,
undulating on its great wings,
as it lifts you above the continental drifts.

From this height history becomes you.
You see tribes as nations, whole civilizations
emerge from the dust at your feet.
You recall the dim dream of Moctezuma,
and he is no longer a fool but someone
who imagined the white god come back
brightened by exile,
to unite all indios in the spirit
and reconcile all those who are cast out
into one familia.
It was not his fault Cortez was not this god.
His dream, perhaps, goes on in you
and rising on that dream above all history
you can see how the feathered one speaks
through the mouths of those wrapped in earth
to urge you, to compel you:
claim the earth
people the spirit
and in the name of all the people within the earth and on it
transform the violence against the familia into your anger
and transform that anger into the harmony of La Raza.
Then, perhaps, all of us can be at peace.

Those within the earth and those not yet born
are within you waiting to be reconciled.
Your strength is in the multitudes you contain,
not in a single face or even in three faces,
but in the fragments of many who are
wrapped in your bones and blood and skin --
a great mural of life
where the old ones gently embrace your children.

by Rex Veeder


© 1998 Kaleidoscope

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Last update: 1 July 1998

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