Welcome to What Has No End (Story/Poem in remembrance of the Ayotzinapa Missing 43)

Welcome to What Has No End

By Irene Sanchez (Xicana Ph.D.)

In 2015, two months before graduation, the caravan for the missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa came to Seattle. Memories from years before I was in graduate school came back. Now three years after the caravan and four years to the day after the 43 disappeared on September 26, 2014, I found myself at a point willing to share.

When I was finishing my Ph.D. I lost my way at some point. I lost my purpose and the reason I was there to begin with. It was buried under deadlines, conferences, and norms about proper behavior and dress for a student. It was buried under what education means in a system that consistently dehumanizes. Resistance to it meant for me, I would lose opportunities, but in that process would again find myself and all that makes me whole including why I had come to this field.

I’m an educator. To go to school to become one is the first mistake. Learning is all around us. The first step in becoming a teacher is becoming a student. This was a lesson I remember from reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire in community college.

The second lesson I learned about education was not in the U.S. it was from learning about struggle, learning with struggle and engaging in struggle. Third lesson is learning from others. Over my early years in college before graduate school this education took me to a jungle in Chiapas and again later to autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas for a longer period of time including Universidad de la Tierra and a year later to Venezuela, learning with people from Cuba and Venezuela in a dialogue to discuss education. All of this long happened before I entered graduate school.

At some point I forgot these lessons until the 43 caravan came through the Pacific Northwest a couple months before I graduated. I dropped what I was doing to go to as many events and exchanges I could. To learn. To remember what education is and more so what is worth struggling for in this world.

I remember the last evening the caravan was there. I was playing music with a community based son jarocho group I was in. I sat on the floor of the packed room and listened as a student who survived shared his story again as I had heard all week, but this time he shared with us the greeting that students receive when they arrive at Ayotzinapa. It is something that has guided me since and the inspiration for this poem.

Welcome To What Had No End

Red is the color of this story

A story

With no first page or last

Night has taught me

Every dawn has

A greeting

Welcome to what has no beginning

The ancestors have left

Maps made of galaxies

That require you to walk questioning

Follow the offerings

Cantos y Flores

Honor all that has lived

Remember what is missing

Is not gone

Pass the moments

Stories that never stop dreaming

Of a world where many worlds fit

Welcome to what has no end

Red is the color of this circle

I am deciphering stories

Etched inside my bones

I speak them in a tongue that has been

Many times cut out

Split in pieces by border crossings

Shamed by racist schools and

Assimilation projects

Many moons ago

My grandmothers first walked

This side of the border

Before there were borders and

Legends of the dismembered

Were never destroyed

A blood moon once taught me

How to put the pieces back together

Whispered

If there’s some pieces out of place

Keep them safe

You’ll need them later

For where you’re going

Red is the color of struggle

I read in a book

El Viejo Antonio said to Marcos

In a place I once stood

The struggle is continuous

This fight for

Land, housing, education, bread

dignity and life

Years later

43 teachers are still missing

You took them alive

We want them back

Along with everything else you tried to bury

Gritos are not for independence or

flags

But for justice

Aim them all towards the

Center of the Americas

For every time the earth trembles

A story emerges

Epicenters where great civilizations once lived

Where they still do

Where resilient people have

Never given up

Ayotzinapa

Is not just to the south

But felt in all four directions

The mountains echo a greeting

From graves we can’t see

Words ricocheted through centuries

Traveled by caravan

And collected a story

Made of raindrops by my feet

Knowing one day I would step into it again

Telling me to walk through this door

There is no going back

Welcome to the eternal struggle

Red is the color of the clay

That almost sent the van off a cliff

I did not die that day

In Chiapas

Where I once thought this journey began

Instead something continued

Let me mold these memories to

Be reminders of

The selva lacadona and

The way stories fall from the sky

And how they sound like buckets

Of water on a tin metal roof

How they rise like smoke

And smell of resistance

On the earth which I slept

The jungle whispered darkness

But lights of fireflies reassured me

Do not be afraid

There is only one way to walk

Vamos vamos vamos

Vamos adelante

Red is the color of this fire

A fire that still burns

Stubbornly

Hopefully

For a better tomorrow

Like it did yesterday

And will for all the days that remain

C/S

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