Wednesday, June 3, 2009

12 - the next night

The next night they put another woman in our cell,
Crying hysterically,

How could she forgive him?
They were coming,
The man, the spies
I couldn’t protect her!

Incoherent anguish

As there were no more mattresses, my cellmate invited the newcomer to share hers,
Which was scarcely wide enough for one person
I assumed the crying woman had been in a traumatic traffic accident, like me, In the morning of offered her my bread and water
(the jail doesn’t provide food. If you have no one to bring you food, I guess you starve)

La próxima noche metieron otra mujer, llorando histéricamente, hablando de que no podía perdonarlo, porque, porque, angustia incoherente. Como no había otro colchon, mi compañera la invitó a compartir el suyo, ya casi demasiado pequeña para una persona. Asumí que a ella le habia pasado un accidente de tránsito traumatico igual que yo. Por la mañana le ofrecí de mi pan y agua.

(image by CHUCK)

Days later I read in the newspaper that this inconsolable woman was in jail because she had
Thrown her baby in the latrine
It drowned
She was psychotic, post-partum I thought.
How could she ever get over this?
An innocent death

How can any of us be certain we will never be struck by
a craziness,
A loss of sensibility,
A few seconds out of our control?

Días despues leí en el periódico que ella estuvo preso por botar a su bebe en la letrina, que le había pegado una locura post parto.
Como asimilar algo así? La mujer inconsolable, un muerto inocente.
Como puede estar seguro uno que una locura, una perdida de sentido, algunos segundos fuera de control nunca te van a golpear?

11 goodness

Chica, debes subir aquí conmigo y mirar afuera, y platicamos.
Ella estaba sentada en la cama arriba, desde donde una podria mirar afuera, por la ventana estrecha.
Siente el viento,
el sol,
mira a los arboles,
a la gente.
Todavia estamos vivos,
Todavía somos mujeres!

My dear girl, climb up here with me and look outside, and let´s talk.
She was sitting on one of the top bunks, from which one could look outside, through the narrow window with a broken screen.
Feel the wind,
the sun,
look at the trees,
at the people.
We are still alive.
We are still women!

Mi compañera nunca me preguntó porque estaba allí, ni le pregunté a ella. Estuvimos dos mujeres atrapadas en situaciones traumaticas, y esto fue suficiente.

Incluso ella era diabética y no la habían dado su tratamiento por 4 días. Cuando al fin grité que por emergencia esa mujer necesitaba a un médico
se desmayó y tuvieron que llevarla chineada.

Y no obstante ella tenia la fuerza para estar generosa de espíritu conmigo.

My cellmate never asked me why I was there, and I didn’t ask her. We were two women trapped in traumatic situations, and that was enough.

She was diabetic and they hadn´t given her treatment in the four days she had been locked up. I could tell she was not well, and I started calling out to the guards. I finally screamed
Emergency! This woman needs a doctor! Hello??
When the guard came she fainted and he had to carry her like a baby. And she was not a small woman.

Despite all this she had the strength and the will to be generous of spirit, to share herself with me.

Como puedo comprender todo eso, que por medio de los momentos más oscuros hay puntos de luz, de gente que no tienen nada salen regalos. Que hay buena gente en todos rincones.

Astounding, really, to experience.
It really is true that in the midst of the darkest moments there are points of light,

That from people who have nothing come gifts.

That there are good people in all corners.

(photo by Carl Hamilton)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

10 - la celda/the cell

Me metieron en la celda por la noche, llorando y media paralizada. Uno de los policía susurro algo en el oido de la otra presa en la celda y se fueron. Creo que esta mujer me cuidaba toda la noche, porque cada vez que me desperté la vi mirándome como una mamá mira a su bebe mientras duerme.

They put me in the cell for the night, crying and half-paralyzed. One of the policemen whispered something to the other prisoner in the cell before they left.

I think this woman watched over me all night, because every time I woke from my nightmares she was looking at me with the concerned gaze of a mother checking on her baby.

(heartwings painted by the Mayorga girls on their fence, Acahualinca, Managua)

El día siguiente no quería abrir mis ojos por miedo de ver que mi pesadilla fuera realidad.

Ëstar encerrada te hace loco a uno, dijo mi compañera de celda. Debes bañarte chica.

Todavía andaba la misma camiseta y jeans del accidente, manchados con sangre, sudor, tierra, suero, y lágrimas. Echando copas de agua sobre mi cuerpo morado, cortado y inflamado, con mis pies plantados a cada lado del hueco inodoro, se me pegó la imagen de un ritual de purificación. Con solo este agua cayendo sobre mi piel recuerdo que estoy viva, y es una sensación bella.
Pero las hermanas nunca van a tener esta sensación jamás, ¿Como pueden existir estas dos realidades?

( image by CHUCK, Guatemala)
The next day I didn’t want to open my eyes for fear of seeing that my nightmares were reality.

Being locked up can make one crazy, she said. You should bathe, it will make you feel better, more human. I was still wearing the same t-shirt and jeans I had on when the accident happened, stained with blood, sweat, earth, IV fluid and tears.

The bathroom in the cell was nothing more than a whole in the ground next to an open tank of water. With one foot on either side of the toilet hole I dipped the cup into the tank and poured it over my head.

Spilling cups of lukewarm water over my bruised, cut and inflamed body felt like a purification ritual out of someone else’s religion. With all that had happened I still had a skin, still could feel the life in my body, and appreciate that life as something beautiful. But the Espinoza sisters will never again have this sensation, water on their skin. How can both these realities, my life and their non-lives, exist?

9 - Guarded

Every time I opened my eyes there was a police officer standing over me.
He stayed there all night and into the next day.
I never saw him sit down or eat or go to the bathroom.

Not that you would want to use the bathrooms in this hospital. I don’t know why I was surprised that not even the bathrooms in a hospital would have toilet paper or be clean.
The ambulance took me to a public hospital because I didn’t have health insurance. The hospital had few resources, and I’m sure I had a cot behind a drawn curtain only because I was a foreigner.

When I staggered out toward the Ladies Room, leaning on the policeman, the many sick folks crammed into hard plastic chairs lining the hall looked up at me and started whispering to one another.

Only then did I start to remember what the embassy lady told me, and realize that this polite police officer was there to guard me, as a prisoner.

I tried to throw up, but there was nothing in my stomach.

What’s in this IV? I’m not sick, I mean, I don’t need medicine. Are you sedating me?
No, no te preocupes, no es nada..
My heavy lids fell shut again and I was lost.

8 - blood

Then we go to draw my blood. As the nurse is inserting the needle into my arm a woman from the US Embassy says

¨They´re saying you killed two people¨.

she says this almost casually, as if by her tone of voice she can moderate my reaction.

Instead her words push me outside of my body, so that I’m watching this horrifying scene,
which couldn’t possibly be happening to me,
it’s someone else´s drama,
it’s in the newspaper,
it’s on tv,
That's not me sitting in the wheelchair,
THAT's me, watching from the upper corner of the room, hiding in a light fixture.

I see Jessica’s body stiffen in rejection of this insane suggestion,
I see her legs explode outward from the chair and her
arms, needles dangling and blood spurting,
fly toward the ceiling.


¨Well, I thought you should know¨

The two nurses are grabbing my limbs, trying to hold me still and force the syringe onto the needle hanging out of my arm.
¨Maám, you have to calm down. Tranquila, tranquila¨


“I don’t think we can get her sample right now.”

I think they sedated me after that.

Not until the next day did I notice the blood spattered on my jeans and tshirt.

7 - numb

In the hospital, a gentle man helps me into a wheelchair and rolls me to get some x rays. Where does it hurt? Where does it hurt?
Everywhere, and nowhere. I must be in shock.

Although I can barely see out of my left eye because of the swelling,
and my words are warped by my fat lip,
and apparently I´ve just been in a very bad accident, my body is numb.

Not paralyzed numb, just numb.
No shooting, no splitting, no searing, just
Through a space in the haze I saw the blur of a person with long hair spread out on the ground, not moving.

I heard someone screaming.

It was me.

Please, let me wake up. Please, please, let me wake up!

(image from a painting by Otto Castillo)

5 -please rewind

I saw some people out the broken side window, and I called for help, and they told me Espera,
help is coming.
I started yelling
Necesito un telefono!

Somehow I thought that if I could reach O. before his plane took off that everything would be alright, that his presence would roll back the clock to before this moment, when we were whole.

Time must stop

4 - can't remember

I don´t remember

I don´t remember

I can´t remember!

How is it possible that you don´t remember? Asked the policeman with the pad and pen

I remember dropping O. off at the airport.
I remember driving along Carretera Norte.
I remember missing the turn to pass the stadium.
I remember deciding not to stop again at the café because I’d already bought 2 cappuccinos this morning.

The next thing I remem ber is the impact of the airbags against my face, and not being able to see anything clearly.

a lot a noise.
I was crying.
Everything blurred