PLACE OF MANY TREES
Dark eyes in smiling faces,
Small hands pull at us in welcome;
Hug our waists.
Our hearts fall in love, and
Our hands follow.
Maize, maize everywhere,
Fields of free and purple.
Even in the towns and cities
In every vacant spot — maize.
Ancient art, Mayan customs.
With the spirit of Indigenismo.
Before Rivera, there was Carlos Merida
Color, Community, Family,
Marimba, flutes, drums, and
Firecrackers…on the streets,
In the cafes; every day an occasion
For Celebration and song….
And firecrackers at dawn.
Green party, Red party, Painted Rocks
Cars and trucks with loudspeakers
Alternate song and hype, all the While
Ignoring the Genocide Trials
of Montt and Sanchez, mass
Murderers of 200,000 indigenous
People . . . why can’t they elect
Strong women of St Martin
Perpetuating ancestral art.
Facing poverty and hunger
Yearning for education, self reliance
A future for their children.
Work worn hands weave,
From memory, patterns
Of bright beauty, while
Their dark, shining hair too is
Woven with their own cloth —
Circled like a crown of life.
Strong Xela Aid volunteers and staff
Weaving their own magic: kitchens
Computers, Medicine, Mattresses,
Leadership…turning small mounts of gold
into Gracious good works.
Art Ambassadors reaping so much
More joy than they sow in
Art projects. Smiles and laugher
With the flutter of Mariposa wings;
Sunshine plates, clothespin butterflies,
Portraits of a land of rich diversity.
Who could work among these
People of quiet dignity and call them poor?
The women who weave life in such
Beautiful color; the craftsmen
Who make purses from refuse;
Those who still, by hand, furrow
Their fields…those who call
The Highlands home in this
“land of eternal spring”…this
“Place of many trees."
She is short --
a testament that centuries of neglect, oppression, and malnutrition are as mighty as DNA.
I would have preferred a nobler word, perhaps “diminutive.” But meanings run deep and true and expect honesty in return.
She leans, no pushes, back and pulls the string taut as she weaves the pattern of her people in colored thread, one over the other, and back again.
The pattern emerges, yellow, green and blue, …and red;
red so prevalent and vibrant that “red” seems not word enough to capture it.
Red, the blood of her people, a culture ripped apart by conquerors too torn to lead,
too proud to follow.
She smiles, her inner beauty fleetingly revealing her inspiration --
her children, her friends, her people, woven as one into the joyous nature around them.
Fingers deftly weaving, creating, and preserving a culture endangered by the need to survive, yet surviving by the relentless drive to create.
Passion, joy, and pain expressed in colored thread.
Returning from Guatemala where the intent was to serve by my mere presence and testimony to the way it can be. Confronted with the question of “what was it like?”, I found myself encouraged to revisit my perspective of the currency by which wealth is measured –
The currency of looking down to see a small child holding onto my leg with all its might looking up at me with large, smiling eyes;
The currency of sitting next to a Master weaver knowing that only this morning she delicately handmade this very loom and patiently guided me to share her vision of the pattern of thread that reflected her nature from childhood. As her hands touched mine I could feel the pulse of generations accepting me into this trade of art unequivocally as an equal soul;
The currency of the Mother awakening every morning 3 am to 4 am gathering wood and building a fire to cook today’s meals with no refrigeration; and her children rushing into the fields to help their father dig potatoes before they leave for school;
The currency of children singing in school with infectious smiles and bright hopeful eyes, basking in every speck of praise;
The currency of witnessing a “beggar” passing a hand-woven blanket through the bus window and realizing he was no beggar at all, he was joyfully sharing the fruits of his labor, actually expecting very little in return;
And the currency of my witnessing in the markets and on the hillsides everywhere, Love reflected in the expressions of children and adults; and the ever present intense longing to be fulfilled by their ravishingly innocent, spiritual presence...
But to embody all of these currencies, how could this be other than my new definition of