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  • Rachelle Escamilla

Confusing Corn with Gold

Sometimes I imagine looking into my Dad’s eyes and telling him a thing I learned about who we are and seeing that he remembers. I don’t know why I feel ignited when I learned that his grandfather was a rope dancer or that the town Santa Rita, NM where some of our Mimbres Apache side grew up, was the scene of some of the most revolutionary unionization; where scores united to free the workers enslaved in the copper mines. But I don’t tell him. I just thank him and my mom for the clothes they picked up at WalMart for my daughter, because yet again I find myself struggling to make it through a month on the part-time salary I earn.



Today I learned about how Pecan trees produce a lot of fruit all at once and then go dormant, and how there is feast or famine, how one season will allow for growth and perhaps trick the silly little squirrels into thinking they can have more babies, and so they do, and then the season goes dry and the squirrels succumb to death – and how this cycle continues over and over again.


I’m pretty sure I’m a dumb squirrel.


Like, somehow, I believed when I was getting a degree in Poetry that my life was going to be feast, but the problem was, I didn’t even know what feasting looked like. How can you when your family barely makes it and the things that they have created for themselves are HUGE and AMAZING within your culture of poverty (a culture to which my family would never claim), but are nothing when compared to the owning class? When the feasting of the world is the feasting on people – Trigger Warning Cannibalism – I also recently read that plantation owners killed and ate the people they enslaved, sometimes as part of large galas/balls!? So, how could I have known that my goal to become a community college instructor or a college professor would mean that I would know about all of the feasting, the vast feasts, but my little grubby hands would be chopped off like good ol’ Columbus cuttin’ off the hands of indigenous bc they confused corn with gold.


I confuse corn with gold all of the time, but the thing is there are people making real gold, and they are feasting on our labor and our bodies and they don’t even know who their ancestors are, because they don’t have to know! They can just find inner peace and happiness and solutions by feasting on whatever culture, person, story, situation, moment, whatever comes crawling across their stolen territory – and WAM – Mine. Theirs. They get it. They own it. They understand it. They are entitled to it. They keep it. They fence it off. They don’t even have to hire security because they just call the police, and their friends will also call the police. So whatever was yours: thoughts, ideas, culture, food, avocados, happiness, land, view of a mountain, blackberries, the shimmer of sun on water, all of it is now theirs, and why are you complaining?


I guess it’s a curse to see the past because if you know enough, you can predict what will come.


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