Day of the Dead Gives Birth to Girl Made with Her Own Hands
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Even in Oaxaca, in its maelstrom of tourism for the Day of the Dead, even when you don’t want to be here because your life has become an unstoppable series of wrong turns, even when your famous novel comes to a full stop because of this interruption, and you spend two grand you can’t afford, all because you cannot say “no” to a friend who badgers you into coming . . . Even in Oaxaca at the Day of the Dead there is magic.
I made the pose. Noticed the girl. Swept the two men into the week-long hustle of my schemes and made them loyal to both my wishes and my commands because we were doing things they’d never done before and never imagined they’d be doing. Got the costume from the town down the coast where the fat ladies in charge raise the last boy in every family as a girl because they don’t want any men in the marketplace. Talked this pose up and sold it like a carnival barker in the bosom of these people’s lives, a pose of a girl with a jug made with her own hands, a jug made shiny brilliant black by being rubbed with a piece of quartz, a process invented by this very girl’s great-grandmother, Doña Rosa.
The girl speaks Facebook and MySpace and is a swimmer and a ceramicist named Athena and she might as well be the man from the future, a storm formed from the breezes of her attitude and turned lethal by the aims of her patience. Mexico is young, muscular, winning at Cannes and the Oscars. I want my picture to show that culture might be facilitated by technology, but that culture is always led by somebody’s imagination. And Mexico is imagining itself.
Even upset that I am here, pissed off that I am too cowed to refuse a pal, sacrificing my stupid novel for a touristy event too maudlin to shoot with distinction, I still cannot help being me: “You want to go to Tokyo and Manhattan and listen to a conversation and catch an idea that blows your mind, makes you see a world you cannot imagine, right? Well, you’ve got those hands of yours, Athena, and you can make your own ticket wherever you want to go, but what you make has to be something nobody has ever seen before. Not just artistic, or arty, but art. Can you make with your hands what you feel in your heart?”
Athena nods as I speak. I have fucked up my own chances, but I am crisscrossed with scars of failure, my grand illusions that cut but did not kill, and she, wise youth, hears me, nodding, because I am singing a song of escape.
Just what she has been thinking. And I walked into the ceramics factory like any other silly tourist, looking to take images and memories home so I can remember where I’d been. Suddenly I am putting up a theatre, featuring the chance to be whomever you’d like to be. She grasps at this role. She’s been trained for it all her life, grown monstrous on dreams and pollen, plumped with tradition and sculpted by megabytes and ambition.
I am glad to be here, suddenly.
Also by seanie blue
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