April 11, 2006

Mending Walls

Multi-colored wallrock ranch housegrey,
late 60's Buick
circular drive
yucca sprouting flowers
In pictures, this is the house my father built
placing one flat rock on top of another,
around a wood frame.
This was our house in Brownsville,
a mile from the border town of Matamoros, Mexico.

Stories of me climbing random rock wall of a reservoir in suburbia,
3 inch pipe and upper body
the roof of every elementary,
middle and high school in town.
Rock thrown through windows on development lots,
cut fences,
long jumps off decks,
waded creeks on a summer afternoon,
as I reenacted my escape from suburbia.

The gazing skyward over walls and saying, "What's on the other side?"
What if I'd been born a few miles south,
the smell of tamale and masa
instead of coffee and sweetroll.
The sound of Spanish and Ranchera,
instead of English and Jazz.
The slight hint of melanin in my skin,
giving me a touch of brown instead of pink.

Walls are meant to be climbed.
Fences are meant to be cut.
Laws are meant to be broken.
Families are meant to be fed.
And boys born to explore become men destined to work.

When the xenophobes talk about breaking laws,
they're not remembering that their ancestors broke laws,
kept moving west,
violating treaties,
squatting on land that wasn't theirs.

When the xenophobes talk about breaking laws,
they're forgetting the settlement of Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming
and a Federal government that took a nomadic people
and shoved them behind fences
built walls to imprison or hide.

When the xenophobes talk about breaking laws,
they're looking at the Spanish land grant of Atrisco
being sold out by some of the families that own it for cheap track housing and xeriscaped yards.
Tijerina stormed the courthouse in Coyote
because the US didn't honor the treaty,
the treaty that broke Texas, New Mexico, and California away from Mexico.

When the xenophobes send minutemen from Arizona
to patrol the border of Nuevo Mexico,
they're fogetting that Arizona broke away from New Mexico
because our hispanic roots ran too deep.

When the xenophobes talk about building a wall,
I quote Frost, "Before I'd built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out."

Don't wall me in.
Don't be fooled by the thought that because they speak Spanish,
dance two step at the VFW,
make tamales,
listen to awful ranchera music,
and love big families
that they are any less American.
Its geography, not borders.
Mexico is North America too.

Don't be fooled by the thought that because they wave the Mexican flag,
it means they want to invade,
they want to change the way that we live.
Entire sections of Chicago speak Polish,
Irish fly their flag,
and in New Mexico
we honor the people who make the pilgrimage to Chimayo,
feast days and Cinco de Mayo
around the same time we go to the Trinity site.
America is a salad bowl,
and I want it that way.

April 11th, 2006

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