Olga García Echeverría
Painting by Nuvia Crisol Guerra.
The morning radio speaks of wars, over there, far away. And here. The roosters started crowing at the break of dawn. I’m in the kitchen imagining the falling of a bomb. Ceiling blasted into smithereens. Sparrows murdered in their trees. It’s the radio making me imagine the silencing of songs, the crumpling of walls. There are the walls of people’s homes being knocked down. And the walls of nation-empires being built. Everywhere. Apartheid walls. Border walls. Weeping walls. Which remind me of how we like to make monuments of things we kill. Soliders. Trees. Children running down the streets with angry stones, fighting tanks. Who’s there behind the gunner, behind the missile, behind the barrel, behind the bullet? This morning I can’t stop thinking of Brisenia Flores, that little girl murdered in Arizona. Minutemen vigilantes broke into her family’s home. A woman and two men plagued by hate, stealing, shooting, killing because they could. In America and in many places around the world, people love their guns. To love a gun to death. The weight, the steel, the metal extracted from the earth. The lever of power. The trigger. The trigger happy. He shot her in the face. The little girl who pleaded, please don’t… A nightmare made real in the middle of the night. How can I eat breakfast or go about my day?
Brisenia. I’ve been carrying her name around for months. This morning I’m laying it down on a bed of flowers. On open-eyed irises. White lilies. Flaming marigolds. For Brisenia. A field of sunflowers exploding with color. A trail of red roses. Nardos. Peonies. Purple lavender swaying in the wind. Fragrant freesia. Brisenia. I’m laying her name down on this page. Right next to 14-year-old Emmett Till. Remember Till? And his mother’s persistent will to keep open the casket of her murdered son? For the world to see what arrogance and hate destroyed. A mocking bird killed in flight. For no other reason than having wings. For being Black. To strangle life of its vibrant breath. Gone are the mind, the heart, the voice of another’s light. It’s the worst of crimes.
Brisenia. I’m laying down her name right here. Next to blooming poppies, magnolia and weeping willow trees, right by the four little black girls blown away in a Birmingham Church. Remember them? Addie Mae Collins. Cynthia Wesley. Carole Robertson. Denise McNair. Four lives extinguished. Dynamite hidden in the church basement by a clan of white men cloaked in white sheets. Which brings me back to her again. Brisenia. The nine-year-old Mexican girl in Arizona I never knew, but whose face and smile are here. With me. With us. And did I already say they killed her father and shot her mother too? Just for being there. In their home. In their skin. Arizona Goddamn!
The other day I drove south on the 5 freeway, past Oceanside, past the migra checkpoint, past the yellow sign of a family running hand-in-hand in desperate flight. I’ve never seen that by the way. Nor heard of anyone ever seeing families running frantic across the asphalt of the 5. Have you? But the yellow sign, it’s always there. A reminder. No Wetbacks. No aliens. No crossing into here. This land. Stolen land. Land of guarded borders. Then I see it. On the edge of the road. The Adopt a Highway Minutemen sign. It’s a burning cross shinning bright on our front lawn. I think of Langston Hughes, who in the face of bigotry spewed poetry. Justice is a blind goddess. He shot her in the face. And the world has yet to weep. There’s so much going on, you see. Birds falling from the sky. Fish washing up dead along the shores. Black gold spills. Pink-slip lay offs. Budget cuts. Gas prices rising. Food prices rising. Cost of living rising, everything rising…And speaking of uprisings, did you hear about how the Tunisian and Egyptian people rose up from beneath the yoke? And how Wisconsinites aren’t about to sit back and eat the shit they’re being fed? Or how so many people are now undocumented and unafraid? And it’s me and you and them over there. All tied into one giant web. I’m feeling the rippling effect. The pulling of the moon. The stomping of the ground. The melting of the ice. The rising ocean tides. The axis shift. The plates moving beneath my feet. Tsunami warning. Radiation traveling in the wind. There’s no escape. The heat of spilled blood. The pulsating heart. The drum growing louder with each passing day. It’s war. War. Everywhere. War. For seeds. For Oil. For water. For land. For moon. For earth. For justice. And her name, her name keeps coming down like endless rain—
Flores for Brisenia.