Las Tristes, Muertas y Dormidas: a story
We are daughters of Coatlicue(1), creator and destroyer, exalted and denigrated. Dismembered just like her daughter Coyolxauhqui(2) Coyolxauhqui, the Moon goddess dies every month, defeated by the Sun. Thrown from the top of Coatepec hill and dismembered with each turn. Still dismembered in the twenty-first century, nobody can put us back together.
Have you been sleeping for a long time?
Yes, probably...I have lost track of time...
Do you always sleep like that, with your eyes open?
Most of the time...my eyes are open but I don’t see anything. Please don’t ask me anymore questions, I have to save energy, there is much to be done and I’m tired, please let me sleep...
I have been lying here for a long time. I guess that it is how is supposed to be. It's better if we move little, none, if possible, as if dead. They think we are dead. I wish I could leave this dusty place, but I don’t even know how I got here; I feel my body starting to disintegrate... I wish...I wish I had never fallen again.
Once I stood alone in the vast and open field, clouds hovering... sky and earth meet… the horizon… I could see then that the earth was round.
You know, when you see the horizon, you see what divides one thing from the other. Then the clouds got darker and heavier. I didn’t know how long I would be able to stand there; they were coming.
Rain and haze.
The rain would come, as in past times, without much warning.
The soil would still be arid under my feet when the haze would make me lie down with my belly flat on the ground, like a broken branch. After the mid-afternoon storm the sky would clear from the clouds and the sun would shine again, but it’s too late. This land, at one time empty, is now full of corpses that extend into the horizon like cars in a junk yard.
How many are we here?
Esta tierra esta llena de muertas, this land is full of dead women. Si las muertas hablaran... only if they could speak...
Telling my story is telling your story and her story and hers too....
There are hundreds of us. The waitress, the student, the prostitute, the mother, the saint, the maid, the wife, the lover, the daughter, my daughter, my daughter...where is my daughter?
Mother, I am here...in this land of dust and thorny plants. My youthful skin is no more; I’m drained, extreme heat, crackling body. Remember when you waited for me at the bus stop? I never came back home, your tears dried on the floor of our home. What a lovely home! Oh my pink house! Not so far, but I can’t move.
During the windy season the dust blinds your sight. The devil comes with the dust. You see them both rolling from right to left, from left to right.
Dirt, all around us, plastic bags that get tangled in the leafless plants, broken glass, remnants of chaotic industrialization. Dirt on my lips, in my mouth, in my throat, filling my lungs. This cake of dirt crumbles like a dry leaf; it becomes dust.
The sun burns my back, shoulders and legs. This black hair doesn’t help. Saliva and dirt. Blood and dirt—one mass. The dump between the shopping mall and the gas station. Mother, I’m here!
How have you survived such a drought? all by yourself?
No, not by myself, I told you there are hundreds of us. We have been knitting our stories into endless shrouds. But nothing happens. How many more? 100? 200? 300? 1000?
I came in March, they said there were ten more from April to September, they’re lying, it’s forty-five more.
Right next to that mesquite, that is where it happened, that’s where they killed her.
Eyes wide open, my voice was silenced by my own heart.
Tied with her own shoelaces, raped, mutilated breasts, broken neck.
Our bodies are to blame. They say.
Construction will start soon, an international treaty, a better life? Huge parking lots, mowed green lawns, imported palm trees, rectangular buildings with cafeterias and recreational areas, activities for workers, work incentives—an oasis. Our cross-shaped shadows will be covered by a faulting memory and injustice.
Who is she?
She is the digger.
her grave, her soul, her thoughts, our graves, our souls, our words, our screams, screams that only our perpetrators heard.
Look at this place! Smells of rotten meat.
Screaming with their eyes, wide open eyes. Screaming with their bodies. Bodies, wide open bodies. Those bodies don’t belong to them. They belong to the system...to church, to culture, to power, but not to them.
You, you conqueror! you have invaded my body, my body, my movements.
broken neck, partially naked; blouse pulled up over the head. Beside the body, carefully placed, a pair of white panties and white tennis shoes. Quiet, chilly desert night.
Tell me how you see the world through your inert dark eyes
Tell me how you smell the wind through your broken nose
I have come to tell you that your family cries for you. They asked me to give you a hug
Let’s go to a peaceful place, tell me everything
Tell me about your exile to the cotton fields
I am the digger, I’m your only friend
One by one they have come, the bodies have been piling up.
There has been a massacre here. They are clasping their hands, as if praying...or ... are they sleeping?
Am I asleep?
I want to wake up, I want to get up, can’t; I just stare and feel bodiless, then totally heavy, tied to a rage. Then a prick in the heart, uncontrollable electricity expanding rapidly, shaking body. I could kill at this very moment. It’s easy: take those scissors lying next to the book and stab them in his head. Get away from me! I could kill you at this very moment.
Is it true, I saw the devil inside of me or was it a nightmare?
calm down, calm down my good girl... yes, yes... always a good girl.
But I saw it clearly, it was the devil sitting, legs crossed, wanting to come out of me. Believe me.
This is complete madness. This is total domestication, manipulation, taming. Like a hungry creature I have stumbled again into the traps of cultural subjugation. Is this a conspiracy?
Do you understand now? Do you?!
Beware of me, I’m an ill beast
Days of convulsion, then, complete numbness...
They seem frozen, is that what happens when you are la hija de nadie? that’s right... nobody’s daughter. Nobody reclaims you, not even you. How can you reclaim yourself if you never belonged to yourself anyway?
Yes, I freeze very often, not because I’m cold, I just don’t feel anything, I stare...
(1) Coatlicue: Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The word "Coatlicue" is Nahuatl for "the one with the skirt of serpents".
(2) Coyolxauhqui: (translates as "Face painted with Bells”) was a daughter of Coatlicue. Coyolxauhqui was a powerful magician and led her siblings in an attack on their mother, Coatlicue, because Coatlicue had become pregnant. The pregnancy of Coatlicue, the maternal, made her other children embarrassed, including her oldest daughter, Coyolxauhqui. As she swept the temple, a few hummingbird feathers fell into her bosom. Coatlicue’s fetus, Huitzilopochtli, sprang from her womb in full war armor and killed Coyolxauhqui, along with her 400 brothers and sisters. He cut off her limbs, then tossed her head into the sky where it became the moon, so that his mother would be comforted in seeing her daughter in the sky every night.