Borderlands

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For the first time in a long time I have been having to stand my ground. This is because of an inter-personal, intra-departmental boundary dispute. In other words, we are not sure what we are each doing. This is not a major international incident, though there are significant tensions at the border. We don’t know where the boundaries are supposed to be, and because of that we haven’t worked out how we live together at the boundary.
The damage of borderlands is beautifully brought out in a poem I have just read by Gloria Anzaldua – who describes herself as a “chicana dyke-feminist, tejana patlache poet, writer, and cultural theorist” and “as a border woman [who] grew up between two cultures, the Mexican (with a heavy Indian influence) and the Anglo (as a member of a colonised people in our own territory). I have been straddling that tejas-mexican border, and others, all my life It’s not a comfortable place to live in, this place of contradictions. hatred, anger and exploitation are the prominent features of this landscape”. (The photo is by Brian Auer)
Here’s the poem – as I read it in Edward Soja’s book, Thirdspace:
                         I press my hand to the steel curtain – 
               chainlink fence crowned with rolled barbed wire –
        rippling from the sea where Tijuana touches San Diego
unrolling over mountains
     and plains
              and deserts,
this “Tortilla Curtain” turning into el rio Grande
      flowing down to the flatlands
           of the Magic Valley of South Texas
      its mouth emptying into the Gulf.
1,950 mile-long open wound
                     dividing a pueblo, a culture,
                     running down the length of my body,
                         staking fence rods in my flesh,
                         splits me   splits me
                         me raja   me raja
                                                                               This is my home
                                                                               this thin edge of
                                 barbwire.
                       But the skin of the earth is seamless.
                       The sea cannot be fenced,
             el mar does not stop at borders.
       To show the white man what she thought of his 
                           arrogance,
                   Yemaya blew that wire fence down.
                     The land was Mexican once,
                          was Indian always
                              and is.
                         And   will be again.

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