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Solitude seemed to engrave the memory further into my open mind as I laid in the sweetly comforting bed. It all seemed like it was a cataclysmic eruption of grape soda on a white t-shirt; the cactus leaf, the tawny color of the desert, and the unforgettable skies that still seemed to plague my heart with a constant yearning for its brisk wind. I could hardly wait for her arrival, this woman, her face a secret to my eyes. She promised me a visit if I were to return to my homelands and the owl late last night whispered in my dreams of her visit to me this afternoon.
Alianza was a crazy character for even the most radical of eyes. She wore a black bandana across her face which matched her two black braids. Her dress shirt was ruffled with the anxiety and passion that she too stimulated from within herself. The bright colors from her skirt pounced out, even with the layer of dust and age so that you could think of nothing else but a good memory and strength. She became irrepressible and forever remembered as soon as she walked into your presence. Alianza promised that when she died, her body would become a visible bridge to even those who didn't believe.
I first met her at the bottom of the cactus leaf and she became my comrade within an instant of her speech. Everything starts and ends with Alianza, but she is neither at the end or beginning of my story. She is my infinite uniting force with the two worlds that perplexed my spirit before the introduction of the city of the gods. She was and is in everything that makes the story what it is.
The morning before I met her, my mother woke me up in accordance with the schedule of Sunday mass. My mother agreed to blue jeans, as long as I wore the nice shirt she bought me from the little Mexican store. The shirt made me look like I was just showcased in one of those Mexican festivals. Mass was as dull as the carpet in an airport terminal, but the stain glass figures of the saints seemed to amuse me enough. Before I knew it we were saying "peace be with you" to our neighbors and waiting to take the bread and wine. Like an unwanted remembrance of a bad memory, I started to think about fried bacon, juicy eggs and toast. Mom always made me wait until after mass for breakfast, I was even denied a cup of coffee. After receiving the bread, I knelt on the old cushioned bench and said an "Our Father" and asked God to bless me with the gift of time travel so that I could fast forward to me sitting in front a large plate of food. I'm glad my mother wasn't like the other busy-body mothers that had to talk for hours after mass, she was glad to go home and relax as well.
As soon as we entered the humble doorway of my little blue house on top of the hill my mother sent me down the hill with the garbage in hand. As I left out the door I last remember her lifting the pots from the cupboards for the bacon and eggs. I was glad to keep myself out of the house and occupied while she cooked because the smell of bacon cooking would only drive me crazy for its finish. The driveway was steep so I had to walk down very carefully. Concentrating heavily on not falling and my hungry stomach, I failed to notice the large strange object hidden in the dark leaves of our avocado tree. The avocado tree was old, its leaves were large and its avocados were my mom's favorite snack. The sound of a big bird started to circle the skies, and I stopped to engage in a little bird watching. At first I thought I heard it from the East, and then it sounded from the South and then uniformly cried from both the West and North. I thought maybe there was a whole flock of birds nearby, then a solid cry from the avocado tree sounded. I looked over but the leaves had herded so thickly on the branches I could not make out a figure at all. I hurried down to the garbage can and dumped the bag inside the can, forgetting of course to lock the top back down. I ran to the bottom of the tree to see if I could see a bird and as I grew nearer, the edges of a large nest came into sight. I stopped for a minute surprised by the enormity of the edges of the nest and marveled at the large object that had not been there before. I drew myself closer to the tree, until I was at the bottom of the trunk. My eyes widened so much that I thought my eyeballs might fall out, good thing I was looking upward. The entire inside branches of the tree had been hollowed out, the branches made a perfect circle around the large eagle nest. The Eagle had taken notice to my presence and we looked at each other sharing a moment of curiosity in each other. The eagle had dark shimmering brown feathers that extended over the nest's edge, the white feathers and large yellow beak at its head was stunning. I had never seen nor read of an Eagle being so large before. I turned to get my mother; however the Eagle taking notice to my escape drew up its gorgeous wings, freezing me into a state of awe. I backed away from the tree slowly but it was too late; the Eagle danced forward claiming to seize me with its claws. Grasping gently upon my little arms I became captive to its large clawed feet as it lifted me into the air.
The excitement curiously outweighed my anxiety and fear as my little blue house on top of the hill became a tiny dot in the ground. Rain clouds filled the air, pursuing at a rapid pace towards us, ultimately to embellish us within them. The grey fog and little sunlight gave me only enough to make out the bodies of the Eagle and I. As soon as the reality of the situation started to become apparent, I found myself fretful, shaking passionately. The Eagle, feeling this, began to sing. Even though I knew that this could not be right, I lost myself in the song for a moment.
Mexica Tiahui Tonantzin Tlalli
Mexica Tiahui Tonantzin Tlalli
Mexica Tiahui Tonantzin Tlalli
Tonantzin Tonantzin Tonantzin Tlalli
Tonantzin Tonantzin Tonantzin Tlalli
Tonantzin Tonantzin Tonantzin Tlalli
In the spirit of Cuauhtemoc, with a teocuicatl
For this one that I bring to the chinampas
The land of her people,
Mestiza, mixed with oppressor and oppressed blood
She is me,
And I ask you to bless her…
"You speak?" I asked, barely able to comprehend the question myself.
"As well as you can hear me," replied the Eagle.
"Where are you taking me?" I managed to stumble out in a meek tone.
"Along time ago, there existed a belief of land, a promised land to your ancestors. I am taking you to this promised land called, Aztlan."
"Aztlan? Isn't that where Mexico is now?"
"No, it is the land of the seven Nahua peoples, elevated to a celestial location that only a few spirits know the location of. This is why the clouds have come to veil your eyes to its path."
"You are not like any Eagle I've seen before, nor any that I've read about. How is it that you are so large and can have speech?"
"It began a long time ago as I began to sow a set of wings onto the design of a Reboso. As a child we fled Mexico, in fear of our death, my parents were political. Coming to the United States I missed my abuelitos so much that I dreamed every night that I could fly to them. I sang old indigenous songs and wove Rebosos so as not to forget everything that my abuelitos had taught me. One time my mother told me a story of a young warrior who once dreamed of saving his people from self-destruction and division. Tribes had become hostile towards each other and the blood from their war was polluting the Earth. He asked Quetzalcoatl to bless his arms to transform themselves on their own accord to wings so that he could fly over the lands of his people. He gathered the dirt of the Mother Earth, Tonantzin, into a blanket, and from the skies he scattered the dirt onto the heads of the people of the land. The dirt was soft in texture and smelled of fresh ground, ground that was ready to be planted with seed. As soon as the dirt was dropped onto the heads of the people, they came to realize what they were doing to the land. All ceased their activities and began to pray for forgiveness from Tonantzin. I wove each line of the story into the wings and soon the Reboso was the most elaborate of designs that I had ever seen. My mother begged me to wear the Reboso and as the fabric touched my skin it transformed my arms to wings. My mother cried in shock, and then grabbed my scared face in her hands. She told me that I was destined to be this warrior and that I was given these wings to carry the dirt of Tonanzin back to its land and remind the people of what we are doing to Mother Earth. Before I was half-human, returning to visit my abuelitos every now and then, and then after realizing my past to its fullest extent, I chose to be just Eagle."
The Eagle continued to sing, and as if my heart knew the song it drummed inside my chest to the beat of the Eagle's voice. We continued to travel in this cloud for a long time until it became dark, only then did we descend downwards. The comfort of light was a luxury lost, and the air of night blinded my sight to even seeing my own hand in front of me. Laying me on a soft cushion, I could barely make out the red color of the soft object I was laid upon. The Eagle seemed to perch himself next to me, or so it felt. I did not know what to do, I was exhausted from the commotion and I felt my eyes become like bricks wanting to close shut. I reasoned that if I should fall asleep, maybe I would awake back home and would see that this was all just a dream. I had no other choice than to submit to rest. That night I had a dream of a woman, dressed like one of those women at the pow-wow I went to last summer, she danced from side to side, displaying her woman-made wings of Eagle feathers.
The stiff morning light woke me from my dream; however it was the image before me that woke me from my sleep. I jumped from surprise and end up rolling off the soft red cushion I slept on. The Eagle was gone and before me stood a large green plant of some sort with tons of red cushioned balls at the bottom of its stump. I could not make out the extent of this green plant because I was harbored under its thick green pads that stretched very far. I started to make out the structure of a large cactus, due partly to the long narrow needles that came out from the green pads. Astonished my heart seemed to stop and the cold air met the sweat dripping from my brow. Without changing my disposition a sound emerged from the edge of one of the red cushions. It was like a rattling sound, recognizing the desert environment and cactus plant I imagined the danger perpetuating from the origin of that sound. In deed it was a serpent emerging from the red cushion.
"Is the Eagle gone?" he said.
I heard the question come from the serpent's mouth like clear day and could not manage a response.
He continued, "I suppose Eagle has brought you here for a reason, otherwise he would have ate me before he left. Damn him and his mind games! My life is only existent for his vain desires. But never mind, this is not your plight. What is your name?"
I stood with full comprehension that I needed to respond this time, but all I could manage was a "Huh?"
"Never mind, let's start the climb before the herd of White Horsemen approach"
"White Horsemen?" I asked
"You will see." He then proceeded to give me further instruction," The needles will rise out of the cactus pad as you climb so that you will have something to grab onto and step on."
Sure enough, as I climbed the stump of the cactus, needles pricked out of the leaf and guided me behind the slithering serpent. The climb was exhilarating and I could barely catch my breath as I got closer to the true sight of the cactus plant. It was huge, and as far as I could see the leaf that we were approaching was at least 300 feet high, with no end in sight. As I reached the bottom of the cactus leaf a loud thunder of horse hooves shook the structure that I stood on. I looked back to see if I could make out the commotion but instead was interrupted by a hand on my shoulder.
"Touch the leaf of the cactus, quick before they come."
I turned to see the face of Alianza, with whom I had no idea of at the moment. Her touch and voice gave me courage enough to extend my hand to the soft leaf structure. The moment that I touched the skin of the leaf it seemed to take on a life of its own. Bending downwards, forming a bridge, it stretched out further than I could make out. The sharp needles started descending into the leaf's body and without looking back I ran onto this bridge. I could feel that the woman and serpent were behind me. Running from an unknown harm I worried of its closeness to me. I finally turned and was taken back by a large white horse with a half figure of a human male attached to its backside. This White Horseman came with fire in his eyes and gun in hand. He pointed it at me and declared my submission back to the bottom of the cactus leaf. The woman, Alianza, placed her hand on my shoulder once again to reassure my safety.
"They can not pass," she said with dignity.
Before I could ask a single question, the White Horseman galloped onto the leaf without fear. The faster and closer he came to me, the more frozen I became. I could not move. My fear was suddenly surprised with the ascending needles that shot up from the leaf and into the chest of this beast. Looking down at me, he died in this horrid position.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"Who are you?" was all I could manage to explode out of my mouth.
"I am Alianza."
This is all I could remember before I fell into a deep coma.