The unthinkable becomes routine: thirty hours spent in the car this month in-between frontera / flagstaff. This time, the group is small and seasoned: Jewelynx Disasterpants and Esprring, blearry streaking there and back.
No sign of the Minutemen. The valley is much calmer, free of lawnchair commandos but still Green Streaking migra stripes on every other car. Every other car a portable prison. It’s the 30th of April. The octatillo are burning on the ends, someone spraypainted “NO ONE IS ILLEGAL” over a “closed borders” sign.
We are here to celebrate the end of April in all its connotations y la mañana llena de esperanzas.
But remember the wise words of Ahnold. The borders should be “sealed.” Wait no, chaulk that one up to “bad english,” he says. Sure, since he was also talking about the Minutemen doing a “terrific job.” More bad english. That article made the front page of the hometown Herald. Listen to this.
Naco Highway is a runway. It’s 2:30pm and there are 15 of us, 2:45 and there are 30, the statute of liberty is wearing a long dress, gray hair and yelling “vamos” from the revolving port-of-entry. We wait, the sun growing impatient with the back of our necks. Someone makes a comment about pachouli oil being aged 30 years in mesquite barrels. The songs start, the last parking lot on Amurican soil has a sign that reads “GAY 90s PARKING ONLY.” Esprring asks what it’s talking about. We turn around and “GAY 90s” is written in flowing script on the plaster of the building next to us. Later some children would be shouting “SOMOS UNO; WE ARE ONE” from a concrete stage.
It’s three. Ray and the ACLU volunteers ride in, the anti-calvery clad in bright yellow shirts and their own burnt skin. I’m passing out white crosses with names written across their arms. “DESCONOCIDA, 2003” Las Boinas Cafés de Aztlán, brown fists and los tres colores stoic in sway. Someone is yelling that we’ve agreed not to record the border crossing for Homeland Security Reasons™. Univision is recording our footsteps from a foot off the ground.
There’s a discussion of Liberation Theology™ going on somewhere behind me. They open a heavy automatic gate to let our procession through. The border wall here is painted in 10 foot tall children with names like “Francisco” and “Mike,” it looks like they were painted by 4 foot tall artists and have faded. Maybe in the last month.
They’re playing songs up front. Father Carney walks with us. Later he’ll remind me that it’s up to the youth from here on out.
Plaza Juárez is pólvera and european band stand, PA and piñatas. It takes so long for all of us to arrive, we’re a millipede shuffling our million feet.
The organizers hectic and smiling, MC and band and berets.
Celeste and I are next on the mic. We’re opening with her poem “The Border Line” that she first performed at the Binational Poetry Reading a few weeks back. I read it in English, she in Spanish with fuego. Lenguas y llamas. I asked for her permission to put my recording of “The Border Line” for all to see. She said yes. The sun has again sunk to look us in the eyes. I’m reading “La Viejita,” catching sight of M.E.Ch.A de NAU halfway through, we can’t stop now. They are cheering, I almost can’t finish.
The kids steal the show anyway. Kat from Derechos Humanos wrote a small obra de teatro, it’s great. “SOMOS UNO; WE ARE ONE.” Gritando in all kinds of throats.
Later, they’re breaking open piñatas with sheer excitement. The piñatas are giant M&M’s. Get it? Mm?
April ends at sundown and we begin to write the lines of the next chapter at dawn.
Five hours to Flagstaff.
Team NORAZ 2005 to make plans.