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LA TOLTECA 'ZINE EDUCATION Promoting the Advancement of a World Without Borders and Censorship FEATURED ARTIST RAMONA GARCĺA, WITH MUERTA PAZ, LINDA GONZÁLEZ, NANCY AIDÉ GONZÁLEZ, SARAH RAFAEL GARCĺA, PATRICIA PEREA, DANIELA KUZMANOVA, PIOTR SASARA, BRENDA ROMERO, PH.D., & PHOTOGRAPHS BY EFRAĺN GONZÁLEZ

FALL 2015 AÑO CINCO VOL. DOS


“It does not matter how slowly you g ~Confucius*

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*from Goodreads


go as long as you do not stop.�

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Publisher & Editor-in-chief Ana Castillo

Managing Editor & Director of Design Ignatius Valentine Aloysius

Año Cinco Vol. Dos Fall 2015

La Tolteca Staff Copyedit/Proofreading Ignatius Aloysius/Linda González Contributors [Photography]

Efraín González, Ramona García, Nancy Aidé González, and La Tolteca 'Zine

La Tolteca ‘Zine is published twice a year in spring and fall. L/T ‘Zine is not responsible for the authenticity of contributors’ content. All contributors are solely responsible for their submissions. SUBMISSIONS POLICY: All Ana Castillo workshopistas are invited to submit original, unpublished work in any genre or media for consideration: tolteca@anacastillo.com. Please note: Only Microsoft Word formatted files will be accepted. PDFs and e-books are not accepted. Review all your text for errors prior to submitting. Queries and submissions: tolteca@anacastillo.com

Our Spring 2016 theme is Journeys. Please check out the La Tolteca 'Zine Facebook page for more details in our regular posts. Submission deadline is January 15, 2016. La Tolteca ‘Zine welcomes new books to review: P.O. Box 1405, Anthony, NM 88021

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Front cover photo: Moonseries3_LG ©2015 Ramona García


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A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

W

e end our fifth year of La Tolteca 'Zine in the current format. In anticipation of each issue we put out a call with a theme. Many of our readers, contributors and workshop participants are teachers and academics. However, we did not receive the extent of contributions on the subject we anticipated. Charter schools, the changes in higher education, on-line programs replacing classrooms, students debts, the subject of education did seem worthwhile as both educators and students alike returned to school. The subject of undocumented students who were brought to the United States with parents continues to be at the forefront of supporters and opponents alike. Professor and La Tolteca contributor Dr. Brenda Romero shares with us her recent experience, when she included several undocumented students at the college where Dr. Romero teaches on a summer trip abroad. Nevertheless, we are very pleased by the response to our solicitations. We are equally happy to present new contributors to our 'Zine readership. In this issue we include a memoir essay by Linda González, a workshop participant, and welcome her to our staff. La Tolteca 'Zine is managed by volunteers. We are working writers who wish to celebrate through this venue the accomplishments of writers and artists, both renown and new. Our featured artist is Ramona García. Ms. García participated in the workshop I gave last spring in Sacramento, California. Among other endeavors, the artist has created a therapeutic creative workshop which employs the use of a traditional paper-maché doll. We hope our readers will enjoy her contributions to this issue. La Tolteca 'Zine always welcomes photography and in this we show the works of Efraín González from New York City. Two workshop participants from Texas whose poems and memoir are being featured in the 'Zine for the first time are Muerta Paz and Sarah Rafael García. We also feature for the first time Daniela Kuzmanova, a graduate student with Ana Castillo who lives in Bulgaria. The memoir essay included was written in English. We believe every artist in the following pages has come to her and his fruition in a personal and wondrous way and hope that you find their contributions as splendid as we did. The next issue will appear on the spring equinox, 2016. The theme will be journeys. We look forward to continuing our own journey with the La Tolteca 'Zine project as we enter year six. Thank you for taking the time to view our labor of love, flower, and song.

AnaCastil o

Editor-in-chief and Publisher

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CONTENTS ON EDUCATION

Editor's note . . . 7 FEATURED ARTIST RAMONA GARCĺA

Art for therapeutic healing . . . 10–21 MEMOIR

A Seed of Cariño By Linda González . . . 22 A Haibun Story or You Will Succeed Because You Have Zest By Daniela Kuzmanova . . . 25 POEMS

Muerta Paz Con-Corazon Sin-Guerra . . . 30 Nancy Aidé González . . . 38 MEMOIR

My Parents' Country By Sarah Rafael García . . . 42 PHOTOGRAPHY

By Efraín González . . . 46–53 MEMOIR

Education, Borders & Dreams

By Brenda Romero, Ph.D. . . . 54 MEMOIR

Cowboy Poetry, Road Trips, Precarious Educations and Other Interstate Lessons

By Patricia Marie Perea . . . 58 MEMOIR

Learning to Love

By Piotr Sasara . . . 62 Favorite Book Picks for Fall . . . 66 Contributors' Photos . . . 68 8

FALL 2015 


VOL. 2

Photo: Moonseries1_selfPortrait ©2015 Ramona García

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F

EATURED ARTIST RAMONA GARCÍA (Workshopista, Sacramento, CA, 2015) is a paper-maché and stop motion animation artist. Her current practice focuses on the use of doll-making workshops for women and youth for therapeutic healing. She holds a B.A. in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley.

"Sometimes the shocks of transitions lure us into states of muteness from which we must find creative ways to recover. Having migrated to the United States at the age of thirteen, [I became interested in] art, [which] became an important language and an outlet for expression. In my work, I like to explore the languages of film and paper-maché as a way to revert that muteness and find a voice. I’m particularly interested in the ways these two forms can be used to tell stories and the intersections between narratives and our connections with the past. Finding our way “back home” through our narratives is a process that requires an inward journey; one that seeks to dig deeper through layers of colonialism and displacement.
The products are acts of liberation, of making sense of the world through our stories. I believe art and film have that potential." ~Ramona

Photos: ©2015 Ramona García

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"THE PRODUCTS ARE ACTS OF LIBERATION, OF MAKING SENSE OF THE WORLD T

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THROUGH OUR STORIES."

Photos: ©2015 Ramona García

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"FINDING OUR WAY “BACK HOME” THROUGH OUR NARRATIVES IS A PROCESS TH

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HAT REQUIRES AN INWARD JOURNEY..."

Photos: ©2015 Ramona García

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"SOMETIMES THE SHOCKS OF TRANSITIONS LURE US INTO STATES OF MUTENES

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SS FROM WHICH WE MUST FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO RECOVER."

Photos: ©2015 Ramona García

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"I LIKE TO EXPLORE THE LANGUAGES OF FILM AND PAPER-MACHÉ AS A WAY TO

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O REVERT THAT MUTENESS AND FIND A VOICE."

Photos and following spread: ©2015 Ramona García

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MEMOIR

A SEED OF CARIÑO by Linda González

MI MAMITA, ISABEL, LIVED HER SEVENTY EIGHT YEARS

without any deliberate attention to her culture as a deep abiding cornerstone of her life. Born and raised in Colombia, she immigrated to Los Angeles, California in her early twenties, leaving her brother and sister. With the help of Colombian friends, she learned English and worked in service jobs. She met and married my father, an immigrant from México, in her early thirties and had three children in five years. I was, like her, la del medio. While español was my first language, it slowly disappeared from my tongue, although never from my ears, as my parents’ close circle of friends remained immigrants. Spanish was the essential difference between most of my friends and me, as my parents chose to live among the gringos in Mar Vista. Mom was the first person to speak Spanish to me and the first to regañarme when I became increasingly reticent to speak it as I watched TV and attended schools where it was labeled a foreign language. I chose a different yet similar path when I became a parent. I, like my mother, was the first person to speak Spanish to my twins. Unlike her, I refused to mock them as they cozied up to English, even though they were in a two-way Spanish immersion school program that began in kindergarten. I traveled with them to visit my mother’s family in Colombia as she did with me. My mom’s intentions when I was a child were only to visit her family, while mine were to plant a seed of cariño for a rich, bicultural life inside their fearful corazones. Society and the schools of this country did not educate me to value the life and experiences of my mother. It took many years to understand the cost of living in an

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English-dominant country for both of us so I could value her crooked, determined inglés and the tortillas she heated up every night whether we were eating spaghetti or carne asada. No one taught me how to understand her suffering or how to give her comfort and compassion. My journey to recognize, understand, and appreciate my mother blossomed in the last years of her life, especially los últimos seis meses as she slowly succumbed to Alzheimer’s and cancer in my home. The robbing of her mind became a blessing, as it had been contaminated by accumulated anger and grief from her life-long struggles to belong. Her playfulness emerged even as her body and mind were failing, poco a poco. Eight months before she died, she fell on the way to Taco Bell with her caregiver Violeta at her side. My mom’s hands reached forward, but proved futile in protecting her face from crashing into the concrete. She looked, said my sister Susana, like a boxer who lost more rounds of the bout but won the fight on a knockout. Miraculously, the pavement did not break her bones or her spirit. She sat in the emergency room, asking repeatedly: “Why am I here?” When told, just as repeatedly, that it was from a fall on the way to Taco Bell, she remarked with a sly grin: “Violeta tripped me. I saw her put her foot out to trip me. She wanted my taco!” Ay, dios. Such a funny woman was my mother, such a funny daughter she nurtured in me. My humor is different, much less acerbic as the years passed, especially when I became a mother and opened myself to loving fiercely and kindly. The sarcasm that coated my communication with my mom dissolved as I cooed


sweet nicknames my mother never spoke. Shaking off the dust from words of cariño, I practiced until they were no longer foreign to my tongue--mi cielo, mi vida, mi querido. From mom I had heard “¡Cochina!” when I left my room messy, “Necia” when I stubbornly resisted her advice, and the lovely and popular “Burra” for no particular reason. My mother had slowly switched to a mix of English and Spanish as we grew up. After forty years of speaking to her almost exclusively in English, she didn’t bat even one eyelash when I began speaking with her only in Spanish after my kids were born. My mom had the soul of an artist in the constraints of a “fitting in” strait jacket. She dabbled over the years in expressing her creativity through painting and sketching, sewing and gardening, but she never gave herself completely to love or to her art. I grew up watching her design beauty from a palette of oil paints, pastels, cloth bought on sale, and pink, orange, yellow and red roses. Paintings, dresses, and bouquets I disparaged as unimportant in my own attempts to fit in. She squeezed her art in after the work and household tasks were completed. She may have seen a younger her in me. My college major of English: Creative Writing evoked fruitless warnings about my naiveté. Lurking just below the surface of her words was my disrespect for the sacrifices she made to give me a better life, especially since her education ended when she had to find work. Before she died, I stepped far enough away from my own hurt to see my mother as an immigrant woman who used her humor to distract people from her accent

and carefully hidden insecurities. In her last years I offered her the love I had wanted from her. It had to be unconditional because she often rejected it. I drew on the tenacity she demonstrated throughout her life to find ways to slip her some cariño, driven by the words of Lao Tzu that “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” I am grateful I embraced that opportunity. My heart was at peace when she died because I did not hold back on my tenura the way she had taught me to as a child. In consciously disobeying her, I honored my spacious love-giving capacities and my heart-driven passion to be a writer. As my children grew, I had to squeeze it in my craft as she did. Her death spurred me to write as a way to feel and heal my grief, and I used my inheritance to fund an MFA, which I am sure had her shouting from her grave: “¡Tu inteligencia se te fue a tus pies!” While I did not do what she wanted career-wise, her hard work and conscientious financial planning gave me opportunities she never had, even though I made choices she never did. Having integrated her best life lessons, mi esperanza is that my differently motivated sacrifices pay off for my teens, as hers did, in ways far beyond what I can imagine. Meanwhile, I till the soil in the garden of la vida encircled by a set of cornerstones hewn with great deliberation y amor. C Linda González (Multi-genre workshop, VONA, 2010, San Francisco). Essayist, storyteller, and educator, she has written an unpublished memoir, titled The Cost of Our Lives.

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MEMOIR

HAIBUN STORY

OR YOU WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE YOU HAVE ZEST By Daniela Kuzmanova

YOU WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE YOU HAVE ZEST.

These words echoed in my mind while I stayed with my eyes closed, and tried to keep the dream at the edge of my lids, to memorize it before it escaped permanently. I am far away in an Asian country to participate in a writers’ conference. It is a sunny spring day, and I am alone in the big wooden house. I look around me: I am in a big dark room with long wooden tables and benches that line the window. The room is used both as a conference and a dining hall. I am peering through a window from which I can see the big lake, the bank on which the house is built. In the distance I can make out some of my fellow writers, too. They walk under the blossoming trees and enjoy the beauty of the lake. Suddenly, I feel I am not alone in the room. The cook—a tiny Asian woman in her sixties—is there too, preparing lunch. I walk over to her and, because I have nothing else to do, I offer her my help. It dawns on me that this woman is not just a cook; she is a woman of deep knowledge and wisdom. She has the ability to foresee the future. It seems she is able to read my thoughts, too, because she smiles at me and confirms: “Yes, I can see the future and I’ll tell you some things that are important to you. First, you will succeed, because you have zest.” I was so surprised by her words that I woke up and did not hear the other important things she wanted to tell me, but at least I remembered that one. I wondered what it meant to have zest and whether I would succeed at life in general, or just in something

specifically connected to my dream. A month later, I was searching for information about different kinds of poems in order to help my son Kristian do his homework for his literature class. I was Googling the word “haiku” when, to my surprise, the first site I opened announced the Third International Haibun Contest. It was held in Japan and the call for entries just opened. I did not know what “haibun” meant. But what made me stop and take a closer look at the guidelines of the contest was that it was held in honor of Basho, the great Japanese poet and creator of the literary genre “haibun”. Basho used to live in a wooden hut on the shore of Lake Biwa in the last years of his life. It’s kind of weird, I thought, there was a wooden hut, a lake and a literary event. It sounded so familiar to me. Where did I know all this from? Suddenly, a flash in my mind lit up my memory. There were writers and a wooden house near a lake in my dream. So many coincidences, it couldn’t be by accident. It was a sign, I thought. I frantically surfed the web for information on what exactly “haibun” meant. I felt compelled to explore it. I was already sure what the message of this dream was: I had to write a haibun and participate in the contest. Several days later, I already knew from the numerous websites I visited that “haibun” was a literary form, originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. I read some haibuns in Bulgarian and English, and began to brainstorm my first haibun. Every morning when I went to work, on my way to the tube station, I passed by many stray dogs that lived

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HAIBUN STORY in our neighborhood. They happily wagged their tails when they saw me as they knew me for a long time. Sometimes I brought bones or other scraps to the dogs and I left it near the trash cans. The dogs knew that the trash bins were the usual places where people left food for them. And there always was a dog nearby that immediately ate all the food left. Many people not just fed the dogs but named them, and played with them, too. After all, these stray dogs were the pets of the neighborhood and we had to take care of them. One day I went to work earlier than usually and decided to try and write a haibun myself. It was not

easy as I had to write it not in Bulgarian but in English. I could write about the stray dogs I met every morning, I thought, I knew their habits well. Maybe this was a chance for the Japanese to learn about the stray dogs we had and how we loved them. They were a symbol of our tolerance and love for freedom. I started writing about the stray dogs and was in a hurry to finish my piece before my colleagues appeared in the office. In half an hour the first draft of my first haibun was written. I secretly revised it during lunch time in the next several days. At the end, I had the following haibun:

INDEPENDENT DOG There are two types of dogs in Sofia—pets and stray dogs, or as I call the last ones—independent dogs. There is a huge difference between them—pets are raised as a part of the family—they have all the care and attention they need. Stray dogs have nothing but their freedom. When you walk in the streets you can see these independent dogs busy with their daily routine—looking for food, fighting with other stray dogs or lying peacefully in the sun. Some of them are aggressive and bite people, and then there are long TV debates how to solve the problem with the stray dogs. As a whole, people in Sofia like the stray dogs, feed them and play with them. These dogs are pets of the neighborhood, part of city lifestyle. You can often see how smart these dogs are, much smarter than pets bred by people. They not only use their instincts but develop some intelligence that helps them to survive in the busy city—a difficult task for some people, too. Traffic light turns green But the cars don’t move forward. Dog crosses the street. It’s not a rare view in Sofia to see a dog crossing the street at traffic lights or a dog taking the bus for a ride or for warming up in winter. I sometimes ask myself if I were a dog which life I would prefer—the safe life of the pet, or the risky one of the independent dog. I always answer to myself that I would definitely choose the freedom of the stray dog. Then I pray to God to give me that freedom in my present life as a human being. 26


I mailed it to Japan as an entry in the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2014. A couple of months later I received a letter. My haibun was one of the decorated works. There was a certificate with my name and the title of my haibun, signed by the threemember jury: Stephen Henry Gill, Hisashi Miyazaki and Nobuyuki Yuasa.

Daniela Kuzmanova is a graduate student who lives in Bulgaria.

A year later, I held in my hands Genjuan Haibun Contest Decorated Works 2012-2014 book, and my haibun was a part of this compilation. When I began this magical journey that started with a colorful dream and ended with my haibun published, I could never imagine I would have such a first-hand experience with the Japanese culture. I looked at the book again— it was the material proof of the long journey I traveled. I pressed it to my chest and closed my eyes to realize the magic I experienced. And then, the Asian lady from my dream appeared in my mind’s eye. “I told you that you will succeed,” she winked, “because you have zest.” C Photo: ©2015 "Wet Street" by Efraín 27


Photo: ©2015 Unnamed-2 by Efraín

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POEMS: MUERTA PAZ HUNTER AND GATHERER

I have never known her, La Huesera, my mother.

she gave birth to me while gathering bones left me for dust in the Tejas desert. I was human for 21 days the days were years inside my mutating body until I like her too was immortal

then I began to hunt the women, my buried sisters. Dead, all around me. In my backyard, across the bridge, over the imaginary fence.

I collected them so as to call life back.

put their bodies in my kitchen with care and arranged them for the re-membering of this side by

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C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C


C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

perfuming hair with rose water kissing lips with lavender balm and draping with traditional linen so they would not be naked but the women never came back to life before long the circle I cast broke despite my offerings. sage,

sweat,

salt,

sand.

then I knew I would miss the presence of my thrown-away sisters. them the closest to relatives I ever had

I knew that I could never throw them away as we had been thrown away

I left them there to smell their rotting as if me staying in El Paso meant anything

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MONTEMORELOS

I left everything behind except this talisman which has been en mi familia for 6 generations. It is said to be made from the moon herself. This was very easy for me to accept since my beginning, In very little time you put me back there. Montemorelos, summmmertime, serpents, and sssssex-making. Your body against mine, you grab what is around my neck as if you could prevent it My talisssssman, the closest thing to my heart I let you touch before I kill you in the small ways you like.

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C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C


C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

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C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

FOR INSOMNIA

When I enter staring at

a

I will

the

trance

I

bookshelf where stay

but

the

am

I think wilderness

has a mind of its I

own

say with eyelids sealed

like

I am

dreaming

“This feels like…I am falling apart” the books; the decades captured in

paper time capsules

tornado around become raw morph back into trees in front of me they t r a n s f o r m from what was b o u n d and l e a t h e r to n o w what while lying back

is

g r o wing on the

b e d

I can feel the readable trees aggressively on my arms

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licking

me


and my feet I say with eyelids sealed

like

I am

dreaming

“This ranch…is magical” all the groovy little horses run up the technicolor pasture to meet me in the room where I am alone Entering the t r a n c e about

to lie back

on the bed

my eyelids seal

like I am dreaming

as if I have

ever dreamt

a dream.

I say

“No, no more sycamores for me just w e e p i n g w i l l o w with neon auras, a hallucinogenic

e x p e r i e n c e,

the infinity of sleeplessness, subsequent crazy, and inevitable lonely” while the playing m u s i c in

my

whispers

subtly

unconscious

Muerta Paz Con-Corazon Sin-Guerra is active in the feminist, queer lit Austin scene. Currently she is working on a play, “A conversation with God” and a collection of poetry, BzzR.

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Photo: ©2015 by Nancy Aidé González

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POEMS: NANCY AIDÉ GONZÁLEZ NUESTRA SEÑORA After La Nuestra Señora de las Iguanas, Juchitán, Oaxaca,

They call to her before sunrise coaxing her from sleep with flicking tongues

They whisper within the dream, an unearth miracle victuals of eccentric love mad sanctuary of limitless mist

you are not alone in the cosmos though you might feel that no one understands the gravity of living beneath the chemistry of stars that burn and burn

traveler of callous silence walk through mangroves near junipers listen to the bird of a thousand voices the leopard awaits by the Isthmus take the secrets you have woven into knots

he never told you that he loved you words from time to time can be meaningless an accuracy in the incandescence of joined flesh galactic impulse that throbs

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C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C


C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

your dead are here, feel their breath on your neck let the chills climb each crosspiece of backbone

all that is, might not be all that is, once was before as far back as you can remember

Place us on your head Zobeida we will be your eyes

We will be your crown of green scales, spikes, dewlap tangle of tails in full glory

We will name you Nuestra Senora and others will call you The Juchitรกn Medusa.

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POEMS: NANCY AIDÉ GONZÁLEZ WATERSONG I want an education in your history those fragments you have walked through barefoot the ashes & honey

bathe me in hibiscus words that strip the silence & the flesh

expose the bone & root

my fingertips trace the landscape of your body each pore holds a season of lamentation the tears you and I have cried become a disrobed watersong

I have held a jade humming bird in my hands measured the distance between

intimacy

&

desire

essence of feathers falling myriad of opaline descending upon thorn brush

Nancy Aidé González (Workshopista, Los Angeles and Sacramento). Her poetry appears in the Sacramento Voices: Foam at the Mouth Anthology, Lowriting: Shots Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul, and Twenty: In Memoriam. An essay by Nancy Aidé was published in La Tolteca ‘Zine (Fall, 2014). The poet uses photography (Smartphone) to capture and embrace moments. Her images seek beauty in her everyday world. Taking pictures brings her happiness.

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C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C


C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

Photo: ©2015 by Nancy Aidé González

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MEMOIR

MY PARENTS' COUNTRY by Sarah Rafael García

AS A CHILD, I CROSSED THE TIJUANA AND MATAMOROS

Mexican borders a multitude of times with my family. In my late teens I drove across with friends to visit bars and consume ridiculous amounts of alcohol. At nineteen, I flew to Mazatlan with friends but all I remember from that trip is being laid out by the pool by day, drinking shots of tequila at night and dancing on four-inch heels when I was supposed to be wearing a splint cast from an unexpected ski adventure the week prior (one day of skiing in Big Bear, California). My last trip to Mexico was in 2000. I was in Cancun for a ten-day business trip that consisted of manning a booth at an international conference because I was the only Spanish-speaking marketing assistant. While on guided tours, I climbed the ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum and snorkeled for the first time in Xel-ha, but unfortunately most of my time was consumed by mediocre marketing duties—all blurry memories. Yet in 1999, I didn’t really know anything of Mexico’s history or my family’s life outside of the U.S.—other than Cinco de Mayo was not Mexico’s independence day and my parents were born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. At twenty-four years of age, my friend and I, both first generation Mexican-Americans, had chosen to let destiny direct our first “adult” trip by promising to travel to wherever the discounted airfares would take us for spring break. I was in my first semester of grad school (first of three attempts in my life, back then it was for Sociology) and she was giving undergrad a second try—neither one of us finished the programs. She borrowed a credit card from an older white boyfriend, I contacted a paternal aunt’s friend for a free place to stay, and we both postponed next month’s financial responsibilities to take advantage of Mexico City.

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In the midst of making my travel arrangements, my mother decided to join us. She planned to visit her paternal grandmother residing in Mexico City—a great-grandmother I never heard of until that day. Prior to this experience, I rarely thought of where my family came from or the roots of my identity. All I knew was the name of my parents’ birthplace and Spanish was my first language. I never bothered to ask about extended family simply because my maternal grandmother was an orphan and my mother lost her father at the age of six. Through the years I learned my parents arrived in Texas as young teenagers in the 1960s and faced many hardships in obtaining education—learning English being the main obstacle. The social impact the American school system had on them was completely different from anything they experienced before, not just in how they adapted to a new language but also in their perception of their own social status. Throughout my childhood, my father learned to accept cultural changes in his new country and on a daily basis practiced improving his English and minimizing his accent. I witnessed his many attempts to improve but never understood his intent until having to create my own identity. His efforts became more apparent to me after my own experiences in fourth grade and throughout the rest of my education. I distinctly recall sitting around the dinner table practicing difficult words with him, especially when it came time for his interviews for promotion. I can proudly say he started in the pressroom as a janitor, and ten years later at the age of thirty-six, he became head supervisor in the printroom as well as a naturalized U.S. citizen. It was then my father


introduced me to the term Mexican-American. Unfortunately he passed away only six months later. My mother, on the other hand, chastised us when my sisters and I, as children, corrected her English. She believed we were being disrespectful and reminded us that we also spoke Spanish. When I was seventeen, I asked why she didn’t try improving her English, especially since she lived next to “white” neighbors. She then shared painful stories about her attempts to learn English in U.S. schools. During her first year in the U.S., her peers, including Mexican students who felt superior simply because they understood more English than she did, often ridiculed and bullied her. She instinctively reacted by rejecting English and holding on to her accent, saying it represented her identity and how she got to the United States of America. To this day, she hasn’t received her U.S. citizenship. She continues fighting any form of assimilation and of acquiring an American accent, but of course, a combination of circumstances, including being a widow at thirty-two, caused her to remain socially isolated. Yet when I was twenty-six, she impressed me by sharing her opinion on assimilation, but only after I criticized her accent and noted how it had worsened throughout the years. She responded by saying, “What do you mean I have an accent? ¿Y qué importa? ¡El minuto que caminas afuera encuentras ‘Americanos’ que tienen acentos de todas partes del mundo! A todos se les olvida que sus padres también tenían acento cuando llegaron. Maybe they need to assimilate to OUR America, not me to theirs.” I realize now that during my childhood my parents were protecting me by not letting me be placed in ESL

(English as a Second Language) classes so I wouldn’t experience what they had. Yet, amongst all this history I never asked my mother of any other experiences before visiting Mexico City. I didn’t imagine she would want to return to Mexico or have any family left to visit. I didn’t feel the urge to get to know the land my family once called home. I was merely going to Mexico because the ticket was on sale, I could speak the local’s language, and had an advantage over the white tourist—so I thought. My friend and I spent the first two nights in and out of bars in La Zona Rosa. Immediately upon waving down my first taxi and thinking I could pass as a local just by speaking Spanish, I confronted my first misconception. A taxi driver shouted at me for rolling down a window and blatantly insulted me by confirming I was American. As the evening proceeded, it was pointed out by almost everyone we met that we were from the U.S. The first night in particular, a bartender took it upon himself to teach us to sip tequila, not chug it in one swig. Of course, after pocketing a five-dollar bill I left on the bar, the grinning bartender also advised me to not tip so much at other bars. Later the same evening, I learned to say, “soy ciudadana de los estados unidos” because a flirtatious young man walked away from a conversation after I announced I was American. Moments before abandoning the conversation, he corrected my identity by stating that everyone from Canada to the tip of Argentina is an American. On the succeeding two days we crammed all the tourist spots, street food eateries, and the Museo Nacional de Antropología as hangover remedies and giggled foolishly when someone called us American because we had no other way to confront their comments. By the third day I was extremely relieved to join my

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mother at my great-grandmother’s home, if anything just to escape the feeling of being an outsider. That afternoon while en route to the Palacio de las Bella Artes with my great-aunt, I stopped at a distance to take a picture of the building’s façade. “How is this Mexico? It looks like Europe.” I whispered to my friend, even though I had yet to visit Europe back then. I found myself in the heart of my parents’ country, where a golden angel marked its center, and people in cars and bikes pulsated life through a cacophony of unfamiliar sounds and unforgiving aromas. Yet I continued to speak English and make false

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comparisons to ideas I had conjured in my mind based on American stereotypes. After gawking at the Rivera, Orozco, Tamayo, and Siqueiros murals and insisting on buying an overpriced puzzle of Rivera’s La Grande Tenochtitlan in the museum gift shop, I asked my great-aunt to guide us towards a Mexican candy store. While we walked there, I decided to recount a story of my own in hopes of establishing a connection with my great-aunt and Mexico City. The morning after arriving, my friend and I ran into El Ángel de la Independencia without even looking for it or knowing the historical landmark existed. We were out exploring via foot when I saw the golden angel in the middle of a busy roundabout. I immediately wanted to be in the center of the road under its wings


Photo: ©2015 La Tolteca 'Zine

just to capture the moment on a disposable camera. But to my dismay, I couldn’t figure out how to cross the crowded lanes. Cars zoomed by my feet each time I stepped off the corner while my friend screamed and protested against each attempt. Finally, an armed policeman walked down el Paseo de La Reforma and insisted on escorting us. I tried to explain I wanted my friend to take my picture from afar but he insisted we remained together. My great-aunt affirmed it was best we stayed together, but when I asked why she just smiled and said, “Because you’re American.” C

_______________________________ Sarah Rafael García (Spiritual Activism Workshop with Ana Castillo, Austin, 2014) Educator and freelance writer, she is the author of Las Niñas: A Collection of Childhood Memories.

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PHOTOGRAPHS B

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Efraín John González is a photojournalistic photographer born and raised in the boroughs of New York. Over the last thirty years he has studied photography at the School of Visual arts, and at New York Institute of Technology at Old Westbury, then studied Photoshop software at The New School. He dropped out of College to drive a cab and continue his exploration of of all that ‘was wonderful in New York City.’ González has been published in the New York Times, has two photos in the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York, and is presently working on a book of night time photography in the old meat market district of New York back in the 80's.

BY EFRAÍN GONZÁLEZ

©2015 Efraín González

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Photo: ©2015 by Efraín

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Photos: ©2015 by Efraín

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Photo: ©2015 NY by Efraín

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MEMOIR

EDUCATION, BORDERS & DREAMS By Brenda Romero, Ph.D.

I NEVER IMAGINED THAT ONE OF MY MOST MEMORABLE

moments as an educator would take place at an airport: the Detroit airport to be precise. It was the end of an extraordinary journey that attempted what many would consider unimaginable: to take not one or two, but four undocumented college students on a Study Abroad trip. Some of you might be thinking: don’t illegal immigrants often risk their lives to enter the United States? Isn’t leaving American territory what they least would like to do? Well, things have changed. This is a tale about education, crossing borders, and fulfilling dreams. During my second year as a professor of Spanish at a private college in Nebraska, I decided to organize a Study Abroad program. A trip to Spain seemed to be a logical choice. I had been to Madrid and other major cities in that country a few times. I found a fabulous trip co-leader, and the proposal was approved. It would be an excursion with stays in Madrid, Toledo, Granada, and Barcelona. Students would take a course on Spanish History and Culture during the spring semester. We would leave as soon as final exams ended. After a couple of informative sessions, students who were interested in the Study Abroad program submitted their applications. It was then that the element of surprise made an appearance. While most candidates left the “additional information” section of the application blank, a few students used this part to indicate their immigration status as recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival). These individuals are often labeled in the media as Dreamers, a term derived from the drafted legislation known as

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the DREAM act, which proposes immigration relief to those who entered the United States as minors. These students, who once entered the country illegally, now wanted to go to Spain and I would be responsible to bring them back into the United States. I had to assimilate what I was reading. My academic instincts immediately directed me to do research, but I found close to nothing on the subject. Graduate School had definitely not prepared me for such a situation. Various circumstances and opportunities had brought four Dreamers to our small private college in Nebraska. After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as children, they grew up on U.S. soil, and lived most of their lives under the risk of deportation. They were brought illegally to this country by their families in search of better lives. Each had a unique story and childhood memories from Chihuahua, Guanajuato, or whatever place south of the border they once called home. They all shared a common goal: to seek a bright future through higher education. After excelling in high school, as I learned about them later, they looked for private grants that could help with their college tuition. DACA students are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid or Pell grants, and in many places they do not qualify for in-state tuition. Now, as undergraduate students, all four of them were active members of various academic clubs and organizations. One was on the school’s Cross Country team, and another one sang with the college choir. When the possibility of a Study Abroad experience appeared on campus, despite obvious concerns, they considered it.


In front of the Royal Palace in Madrid

The road to Spain was not easy. While the rest of the group only had to worry about having a valid passport, these students had to make a life-changing decision. They could apply for Advance Parole from the Department of Homeland Security, justifying their trip as part of an educational experience, but their entrance to the U.S. was not guaranteed. Their unanimous decision was to go through the process. These determined students refused to let borders or politics stop their dreams. The trip meant much more than three credits on their transcripts. It would be a journey of many “firsts�: first time to Europe, first time on an airplane, and first time on a beach at a seashore. Perhaps it would also their first time truly feeling free.

Needless to say, our time in Spain was delightful. The masterpieces at the Prado Museum in Madrid, the labyrinthine streets of Toledo, Alhambra Palace in Granada, and the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona were some of the highlights of our excursion. In an instant it was time to come back. During the farewell dinner we talked about our favorite moments in Spain, and remembered some of the hurdles students faced prior to the trip. Even with the partial sponsorship of a generous donor, paying for the trip had been a challenge for most of them. Between laughs and big smiles, they recalled the part-time jobs they took, the fundraisers they organized, and the many relatives that helped.

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Our flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam was short and uneventful. It wasn’t until we boarded the winged beast that would take us across the Atlantic that the end of our trip was imminent. Our arrival to American territory was in Detroit, eight hours after a rushed takeoff in the Netherlands. As we waited in line to go through Customs and Immigration at the Detroit Airport, I could not think of anything but that phrase that had been haunting me for months: “Re-entry to the United States is not guaranteed.” Although these undocumented students had made the decision to take the risk to travel outside the country on their own, I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility for their safe return.

a return to a peaceful life in the suburbs. Others had different plans. For instance, I learned that one of my students would spend the rest of her summer working at a meat packing plant in rural Nebraska. She was happy to have the job, of course. Work at this factory would help pay for her tuition so she might continue to pursue her dream of getting an education. How I see it now about these Dreamers is that the experience helped them dream bigger. An education without borders was now a reality. C

A few cases of individual DACA students successfully returning to the U.S. had been recorded but never more than one at a time. Having four in a single student group seemed to be another “first” of this trip. At the Detroit airport, one by one they were taken into an office by an immigration agent until I lost sight of them. Five, ten, twenty minutes went by and that office door remained closed. It was hard not to think of the worst case scenario. I was not prepared to leave anyone behind. The office door finally opened. After a brief questioning every single one of those four students was admitted to the United States. Their expressions changed completely. It was clear that they felt relieved and joyful, but I could also perceive a sense of empowerment on their faces. Education changes people’s lives, and this was without a doubt a moment of transformation. In a matter of hours we were getting off the last flight on our itinerary. We arrived back in Omaha on a warm afternoon. Everyone was hungry and tired but there was no shortage of smiles. It had been a wonderful journey for everybody: faculty and students, Spanishspeakers and non-Spanish-speakers, U.S. citizens, and non-U.S. citizens. For most of us, being back meant

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MEMOIR

COWBOY POETRY, ROAD TRIPS, PRECARIOUS EDUCATIONS AND OTHER INTERSTATE LESSONS By Patricia Marie Perea

I HAD NOT BEEN ALONE WITH DAD IN OVER TWENTY

years when Uncle Tony’s wife Julie died in the summer of 2010. Because she was born and raised in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, her funeral ceremonies would map itself across several interwoven communities on the Chihuahua border—Santa Teresa, Vado, and El Paso. As a perpetually broke Ph.D. student at the University of New Mexico, I could not afford to make my around-town car a reliable long-distance car from Albuquerque to El Paso. I called Dad. “Sorry. I can’t make it. I don’t have a good car.” Easy. He had not been to any of my three graduations. He always missed my birthday. I often forgot Father’s Day. We were equal that way. Family events were not our thing. For whatever reason he wanted me at the funeral. “We’ll do it this way.” His accent was odd—caught between Vado, where his trailer, pecan trees, and horses currently were, Friona, where he had been a teenager and worked the fields before moving on to meat-packing, and Dilia, where he was born, where our family had been for centuries, and where Grandma rocked him to sleep before putting him to bed in a dresser drawer. “I’ll pick you up.”

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I looked at the ever-mounting piles of paper on the floor. I was never going to finish the dissertation. Why had I chosen to write about ghosts? I didn’t need to write about them; I needed to talk to them. Ghosts were heavy. Being the oldest grandchild, I was the only one who had heard the stories and I carried them everywhere. I had so many ancestors to put back together for those who could not remember. “Yeah. Come get me,” I said to my Dad. What would we talk about during the four-hour road trip? We did not know how to talk to each other. The divorce had broken us up forever. As a girl, I puzzled him. He had only brothers and didn’t know what to do with me or how to talk to me. And I had no idea how to talk to him. On the nights when he had too much to drink, he yelled and cried, blocking any words I might have for him. So I made a back-up plan. Like Grandpa and Grandma, Dad had a thing for outlaw country music. I could take up a lot of time with burned CDs. Perhaps the first mix could get us to Socorro. I heard tires on the driveway and knew he was here. Not even waiting for him to get out of the truck, I shut the door behind me and walked into August’s white heat. We ran out of things to say before we even got to Isleta. I pulled out the CDs. “Want to hear one?”


“Sure. But can we hear a tape I brought first? It’s in the back.” Reaching behind the driver’s seat, I grabbed the only cassette I saw. I clicked it into the player. An old man started to talk about his cattle dog. “What is this?” “Cowboy poetry. I listen to it on long drives.” I sat back and listened as we left the Sandias behind. The Chihuahua desert stretched out before us. That’s right. Dad and I didn’t talk. We read. We listened. The readings went on and on—southern accents, Marlboro Man cowboys. I heard no Spanish or trace of our vaquero histories, only the same old Lone Rangeresque cowboys. No mexicanos were allowed in these stories. In Texas, Mexicans were not heroes; we were cowards. The Alamo taught us this every time. I grew up on the Llano Estacado. From the very start, our weekend family ritual was to drive twenty miles into downtown Amarillo for our weekly visit to the public library. It was by far the biggest building I had ever been inside and to leave with an armful of muskysmelling books was intoxicating. We had no phone in our house by Palo Duro Canyon and only minimal TV reception. Pages turning, coyotes yipping, and freight trains blaring far to the west were my sounds. As an only child, reading and learning were warm company—until they weren’t. There is no subtlety in the locking of a door. The click of a deadbolt is distinctive. You are not welcome here. This was my experience of formal education. In my Canyon, Texas world, no teacher or librarian ever looked like me. Canyon had, at one point, even been a Sundown town, and by no coincidence their schools were the best in the Panhandle. If you could

rent or buy a house there, why not settle there? Why not give your little dark-skinned Mexican girl the best education possible? My parents made their decision. I did get a good education. I read “the classics.” Reading ad nauseam about the Alamo, I never expected any alternatives. I did not know alternatives existed. Even though I felt left out, I was sure the exclusion was not deliberate. I had nothing to offer. Then I got to ninth grade. Away at last from Texas history, we ventured into the second half of U.S. history. We had an assignment: Where were our grandparents during the Depression? Give a report. Among my classmates, my story stood out. My grandparents were not in the Panhandle. They were not poor Whites who suffered through the Dust Bowl. My grandparents were in New Mexico. They were on ancestral land. Their parents, my great grandparents, owned a little general store off Route 66. They gave food away to the pobrecitos that were on their way to California. I felt proud to say we were landowners and storeowners. When I finished, the teacher looked down at me. “I don’t believe your story at all. There is no way Mexicans did better than Whites.” That’s all it took to shut me up for the next ten years. By then, I had made it through an English B.A. at West Texas A&M University and an English M.A. at the University of Texas, but I was still unsure I had anything to say. A lot of silence and anger came with me into my Ph.D program. I dredged up all the ghosts I could find – parents and grandparents who worked in fields, migrating from Texas to New Mexico to California to Idaho to Michigan. There were the stories of babies who died; kids who never got to finish a full school year before they were on move again. When the Ph.D. was at last at hand, I had my dream

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—although temporary—job as a visiting Lecturer in Ethnic Studies at Brown University. I could teach whatever I wanted. The students and I could create a curriculum of our own choosing. We were free to think. I went back to New Mexico to the community college branch of UNM in Taos and then to Northern New Mexico College in Española. These tiny colleges served rural, working-class, minority-majority communities that were hundreds and thousands of years old. I could teach there like I had taught before, using books that would empower students, even as students and teachers were treated like factory workers in these tiny public schools. Furthermore, there were required syllabi to follow and narrow goals to accomplish. Administrators often referred to students as customers. Utility was king and a successful student went right into Los Alamos National Labs. Sacrifices could be made in humanities and the arts in order to fulfill the needs of corporate industries, whether they were government agencies or private companies. The creative, humanitarian, edgy education promoted at the prestigious schools was a luxury. It was thought that our students, who were often single mothers, returning veterans, local farmers, or recovering addicts, did not need anything superfluous. Therefore, it was no surprise when the Albuquerque Journal reported, “New Mexico’s colleges and universities saw…the steepest enrollment drop”. In my view, it is also the miscalculated mission of rural schools to provide the most fundamental education to the working-class. As one of the Northern New Mexico College board members said: “You don’t need a fancy degree to work at JiffyLube.” Dad and I talked at the most for about twenty minutes from Albuquerque to El Paso. The rest of our time together was filled with a poetic experience with which we both connected. This personal connection with educational materials, I believe, is vital. If these

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connections were valued in K-12 through higher education and if students were treated as more than simply numbers, then perhaps more of us from rural communities would make it through high school and on to university. Even within the confines of our unseemly classrooms, redemption and love may be possible. C

Patricia Marie Perea (Workshop, Chimayo 2014) is a poet, professor and weaver. An academic review essay appeared in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicana and Chicano Studies and an essay will be included in a forthcoming anthology with Third Woman Press.


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MEMOIR

LEARNING TO LOVE By Piotr Sasara

I DO NOT KNOW WHO TAUGHT ME HOW TO LOVE.

Sometimes I think it was my parents, but then I do not remember seeing them kissing in front of me or even saying “I love you” to each other. Love in my house was not something that was said out loud beginning in the early morning. However, my family is not “loveless.” We do love each other. We may not speak about love or tell each other every five minutes “I love you”, but in our mutual inability to speak our emotions, we’ve come to show our feelings through our actions. I believe that this inability is greater than words. Words can be misleading. Words can be empty. Actions, however, always demonstrate how we feel toward each other. It’s possible that my family lacks the ability to say, “I love you.” However, I can only speak for myself. At some level, I think that it is something cultural: something inherited from a previous generation. I remember one time, before attending kindergarten, sitting by the kitchen table eating breakfast. My other siblings were either in school, still sleeping, or already in the fields. My mother stood by the stove with a wooden spatula, stirring boiling milk in a pot for my cocoa. As she stood there, my father quietly came in from the side door and motioned me to stay quiet as he tiptoed toward my mother. He grabbed her quickly from behind, saying “Mam cię!" and began tickling her. I was laughing, thinking how silly they were. My mother tried to free herself, telling my father to stop. “The milk!” she was saying in between laughs. “I’ll burn it!” But my father continued, making me laugh louder. I think it was then that my mother realized that I was

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watching because she suddenly said, “Stop it! Peter’s here!” and lightly pushed back my father. “So what?” My father asked, stepping back. My mother faced him without saying anything. I watched them with wonder, not knowing what my mother meant or if I had done something wrong. “Alright, I forgot something in the garage,” my father said after a pause, and went through the other door by the stove. As he was leaving, my mother spanked him with the spatula. He turned back, still walking, with a wide smile and then glanced at me before disappearing around the corner. There was something in his expression that I did not understand then. I never saw my father with that smile. He’d seemed like a completely different person. This was the first and only time I saw my parents act that way. I never heard either say to the other “I love you” but I know that their love was unconditional. My mother slept by my father’s side throughout his battle with cancer to the day he died. When he did die, in every phone conversation she had with our family, friends, and neighbors in Poland, she always began crying before saying “Marian died.” Whenever I heard her crying in their room, I wondered how she could cry so much. Where does she get all those tears? My parents rarely quarreled. Both worked and did their best to raise their eight children. They always tried to resolve the conflicts between my older brother Michal and me without spanking either of us for misbehaving in the first place. I knew they loved us. I do not remember my mother or me ever speaking it to


I learned to love, to feel compassion toward other beings, through the animals that I grew up with in Poland -- our cow, Isabella, along with dogs, rabbits, chickens, and especially goats. When I was about eight, However, it was from my observations of my parents’ our old goat, Barbara, kidded four goats. I always loved relationship that I can’t say these words. Instead, I Barbara, but one time, when my mother was teaching learned that there were other ways to let a person me to milk her, Barbara kicked me and tried to buck known that one loves him or her. On the other hand, I me with her horns. After that incident, I felt dubious believe that telling a loved one over and over again may about my relationship with her. demonstrate one’s doubts about what one truly feels, or what one thinks the other person may feel. I find this a One of Barbara’s kids died shortly after birth but the troubling belief. Not that long ago, my boyfriend asked other three were perfectly healthy. One of them was me why I don’t tell him more often that I love him. all black with white patches around her eyes and white socks up to her knees. Her appearance always “Don’t you know that I do?” I asked him. If my love made me smile. I never liked her, though. She was the is unconditional, why would I have to reassure my meanest of the three. The second goat was gray with boyfriend that I love him? black and white patches. At first, she was not mean, but became corrupted by the first and started to follow her “I do know it,” he said. “But I feel like I have to earn it everywhere. The last one was all white. I named her for you to say it.” Snowball and grew to love her best. each other. I missed my chance to reassure my father that I did love him before he died, but I find it difficult to tell my mother.

I didn’t know how to respond at first. I was astounded that he felt like that. It made me realize how my inability to express my emotions might hurt a person I cared about. I explained to him that I couldn’t do it as easily as he or other people did because I felt it would become a habit. Also, saying ‘I love you’ might become an expectation. I didn’t want these words to become empty. “When I say them, though, you need to know that I really do mean them,” I tried to reassure him. He understood but I still have to force myself to say it more often because it is important to him.

When the goats and Isabella were in the meadow on the other side of a levy not far from my house, I went there sometimes to sit and play with Snowball, who was also the bravest goat we ever had. I always gave her “sweets” consisting of leafy willow twigs, but her sisters always came to bother us. I thought that they were jealous of Snowball. One evening, when I was going to bring Isabella and the goats back home, I saw the black goat fighting with Snowball. I ran to separate them and then was hit myself by the gray goat. That was how I decided that it must have been the black goat that began the fight. On our way home as a punishment, I hit her a couple of times with the stick I was carrying when she’d stop to graze but, not hard since I could never be brutal toward any of our animals.

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I was glad when my father finally sold the mean goat. Later on, he sold the gray one. The only reason why he kept Snowball was because I always began crying when he was talking about selling her.

with fur bunnies around him, maggots in his mouth, and opened, raisin-like eyes. There was blood on his feet and on the cage. He had been trying to get out. I starved him to death. It was the first and only time I neglected an animal. My father took Smokey out and I buried him under a willow behind the levy.

One day when I was coming back from a friend’s house, I saw what I thought was a dirty carpet hanging over our fence. As I came closer, I realized that it was not a carpet, it was Snowball’s skin. I felt my throat hardening and tears blurring my vision. I couldn’t believe that my father would kill Snowball. I wanted to touch her fur but couldn’t. At first, I was enraged at my father. As I stood staring at Snowball’s blood dripping down the gate onto the ground, however, I realized that this was a part of farm life. I never objected to the killings of the rabbits, chickens, pigs, and turkeys, or the selling of calves to the slaughterhouses. I loved all of them. I took care of each of them when they were little until they were slaughtered or sold to be slaughtered. They taught me how to love. They taught me how to be responsible. They taught me how to let go.

After I saw Snowball’s hide, I went to the garage where I heard my father talking with someone. He was still working on Snowball. The man with whom he was talking sat on a little stool, the same one my mother sat on while she milked Isabella. He was smoking a cigarette while watching my father’s every move with narrow eyes. I asked my father with enthusiasm what he was doing. It was difficult to pretend that I didn’t mind what he had done, but it was already too late for tears or anger. Snowball already hung upside-down, skinned with her belly ripped open. Her throat was cut as well. There was a bucketful of blood underneath her head. My father was taking out Snowball’s intestines. I decided to stay and helped dismember Snowball and pack the meat for the man who had bought my goat. C

There was a time when I was taking care of a rabbit. He was the last rabbit we ever had. All the others had already been killed for our dinners. I had to beg my father to spare him. My father agreed under one condition - I had to take care of him. I think the only reason my father consented was because it was an old rabbit. However, I agreed without thinking about all the responsibilities of taking care of a living being. I named my rabbit Smokey because of his smokelike fur. I was about five and excited about Smokey. I visited him every day and gave him hay from our barn and carrots from our vegetable garden despite my mother’s protests. When I started kindergarten, I visited him less often until I stopped visiting him altogether. One day, when passing by the rabbit cages, I smelled something foul. I suddenly remembered Smokey. Running to his cage, he was lying on his side

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Piotr Sasara (Workshopista, 2014) is an undergraduate student at Dominican University. He is applying to a student-abroad program at Oxford University.


Photo: ©2015 by Nancy Aidé González

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Wings Press Hardcover – $29.95 This anthology is full of struggle, restlessness, This anthology is full of rejection, the need for struggle, restlessness, serenity, the need to leave rejection, need when you the want to for stay or serenity, need to leave stay whenthe you want to go, and theyou need that when wanttotoknow stay or you notyou alone…that we stayare when want to go, are not alone. The writers, and the need to know that songwriters, and artists you are not alone...that we show us a Texas even are not alone. writers, larger in The landscape, songwriters, artists history, and and spirit—large show ustoa Texas even larger enough include diverse experiences and identities in landscape, history, and from every corner spirit—large enough of to the state. include diverse experiences and identities from every corner of the state.


ook Pics for Fall

University*of*New*Mexico Paperback*5*$18.67

University of New Mexico Paperback – $18.67 Méndez-Negrete's powerful account is the first memoir Méndez-Negrete's by a Mexican American powerfultoaccount is the the author share first memoir by a Mexican devastation and hope a American author to family experiences in share dealing with schizophrenia. the devastation and hope Méndez-Negrete depicts a family experiences in the evolution of the disease from dealing with schizophrenia. her perspective as a parent Méndez-Negrete depicts and by relating Tito's own the evolution of the disease narrative, illuminating the from her perspective inadequacies of theas aUS parent and by relating Tito's mental health system and the added burdens of addiction own narrative, illuminating andthe blame. inadequacies of the U.S. mental health system and the added burdens of addiction and blame.

University*of*Arizona*Press Paperback*5*$13.58 University of Arizona Press

Paperback – $13.58 Conchita, a single woman of a certain age, a single sees woman nothing Conchita, of wrong with enjoying the a certain age, sees nothing company of handsome—and wrong with enjoying the usually much younger—men handsome—and untilcompany she ofencounters a widower with unusual gifts and usually much younger— begins thinkshe about what she mentountil encounters a really wants out of life. widower with unusual giftsA delightful family tapestry and begins to think about woven with the threads of all what she really out those whose lives wants are touched life. A delightful family by of Conchita, An enchanting tapestry wovenand withmagical the blend of social realism that tells a charming threads of all those whose story about what it by means to lives are touched Conchita, be fully human. An enchanting blend of social and magical realism that tells a charming story about what it means to be fully human.

Beacon Press Hardcover – $24.95

In this lyrical, coming-of-age memoir, Daisy Hernández chronicles what the women in her Cuban-Colombian family taught her about love, money, and race. Her mother warns her about envidia, while one tía bemoans that her niece is turning out to be una india instead of an American. A heartfelt exploration of family, identity, and language, A Cup of Water Under My Bed is ultimately a daughter’s story of finding herself and her community.

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Ramona García (Featured artist pp 10–21)

Muerta Paz Con-Corazon Sin-Guerra

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(Poems pp 30–34)

Daniela Kuzmanova (Haibun Story pp 25–27)

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Efraín González (Photography pp 46–53 and elsewhere)

Patricia Marie Perea (Memoir: Cowbo

70


Piotr Sasara (Memoir: Learning to Love, pp 62–64)

oy Poetry... pp 58–60)

Brenda Romero, Ph.D. (Memoir: Study Abroad trip, pp 54–57)

71


Nancy Aidé González (Poems pp 38–41)

Linda González (Memoir: A Seed of Ca

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ariño, pp 22–23)

Sarah Rafael García (Memoir: My Parents' Country, pp 42–45) Photo by Yöeme Hömari

Back cover: ©2015 La Tolteca 'Zine

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SPRING 2016 THEME: JOURNEYS Promoting the Advancement of a World Without Borders and Censorship

LA TOLTECA 'ZINE FALL 2015 Aテ前 CINCO VOL. DOS

Profile for Ana Castillo

La Tolteca 'Zine | Fall 2015 | Education Issue  

Poems, essays, art, and images. Featuring artist Ramona Garcĺa and the photography of Efraĺn González. Read it now!

La Tolteca 'Zine | Fall 2015 | Education Issue  

Poems, essays, art, and images. Featuring artist Ramona Garcĺa and the photography of Efraĺn González. Read it now!

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