Banamichi Recollections, Part II

(Editor Note: Check the SFA website and Jim Griffith Archives for additional Fieldschool reflections)
Three vignettes:

1. El Cristo Negro

by Linda Murray Berzok

The black Christ in Sonora — shiny, skinny, angular, tortured, strange, foreign. Don’t care if the statue is the original or not. Why is he black? Why here in Mexico?

Reminds me of La Fiesta El Nino de Belem in Xochimilco where people brought their ninos from their homes to be blessed at the Mass. Many were black.

I’m suspicious of the poison story. Doesn’t ring true.

His resignation, his fatality, the howl that ends all sounds:

“Oh my Father, why have you forsaken me? I am already in the harsh solitude of the tomb.”

2. Maria-Jesus

by Dorothy Weicker

Maria-Jesus- — Photo by Fieldschool
Participant Katie Harries

Maria-Jesus said there had been a bird once
the turquoise cage on her rose wall suffused with shadows

evokes memory of Lucha
a Mexican aunt from childhood
her penthouse aviary extensive —
parrots, parakeets, canaries —
varieties of exotics and song birds

Lucha — of striking aristocratic-Mayan features
memorable storyteller
mesmerizing / a priestess of the spoken craft
lit the heart with crafted images
the soul of engagement
“Hija de la chingada”
she charged her listeners

that cage on the wall with dancing shadows
turquoise rose shadow play

3. A Silent Voice

by Bob Berzok

A dozen years ago, or so, give or take a decade or more, the tree fell in the woods, somewhere, probably, in Mexico.

Fast-forward from the brutal chainsaw, past the trucker’s stop to the mill and the fabrication of many four inch-by-three feet-by-one inch panels that were stained black and notched into dozens of table tops.

Fast-forward too past a warehouse, a store and the purchase of several tables for the hotel dining room in Banamichi. One table includes the black wood panel made from the tree in the forest.

The panel, along with its neighbors, provides support for many things: colorful placemats, water bottles, fingers, hands, elbows and arms attached to various people around the table. But this particular wood panel does more. It hears sounds: a baby crying in the nearby kitchen, chairs scraping on the floor, and it also hears voices of different languages around the table, translated sometimes into Spanish, sometimes into English.

This isn’t the first time that the wood panel picks up on discussions at the table. It’s not the first time that the wood panel is engulfed by sadness as the conversation continues into the night.

“Hear me” it cries, any number of times. But, ironically, the result is the same as when a tree falls in an uninhabited forest. Some people say there is silence then.

Trees know otherwise.

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