for Gloria Anzaldúa
Open your eyes. Over you stands an eagle-looking priest with an obsidian knife in his hand, ready to cut open your chest from throat to stomach. It’s for a god you do not believe in, but because your hands are tied, you better believe.
Dizzy, the rough of the sacrificial stone underneath you feels clean, as you peer over your shoulder. At the foot of the pyramid’s steps, a crowd calls for blood.
I have been given arrows and shields,
for waging war is my duty . . .
With eyes so dry they bite you, you turn up to the feathered man holding the claw-like knife. His fire eyes peer into yours, while your teeth clatter, and your body squirms. All the while, your heart pounds ice cold water, it seems, because you’re dripping sweat, nothing will save you. Those feathers flutter in the deep wind, and you don’t know it yet but he is the son of the serpent mother and the father of your demise. And neither do you hear nor do you comprehend the crowd below as they now chant —
And on my expeditions I
shall see all the lands,
I shall wait for the people and meet them . . .
— the rhythms of a similar conquest, yours. Your body bobbles. You cannot fly away. The eagle-man presses his brow low, hovers. You shout.
You shout again, “¡Suéltame, carajo!”
But he snaps for your throat, your breathing stops.
You are white, blanco, turning whiter, más blanco, your Adam’s apple crushed by his claw, the priest’s, but he isn’t any kind of priest you know. You notice, as you gasp and wheeze, ignoring the rough stone underneath, that the feathers are red and black, red and black, wavering in the darkened sky, red and black. The priest bares his teeth, and wheezes with you, over you, soon to sing a song of a god’s son with serpent mother —
In all four corners and I shall give them
Food to eat and drinks to quench their thirst,
For here I shall unite all the different peoples!
— but, again, in another language. Today you are their sacrifice and food, their god indeed. You, you see, are the serpent. The priests, in two clean strokes, cuts off each of your ears.
The crowd cheers, calls, sings for the earth, war, and birth, for the patron of midwives — Serpent Woman — dripping, dripping cartilage.
Your ears gone, your drums pound, and your heart falls out of sync. Cihuacoatl. You don’t understand. You are white, blanco, español, ensared, without your armor, without your gold. Red and white. The priest points the tip of his knife at your throat, it is over. You are his prey.
You pray: “Dios mío, Dios mío . . . !”
The back of your head bangs against the stone table, you want to close your eyes.
But before you do, the man over you, brown, marrón, brown, stands ready, prays. You close your eyes, then, as in a nightmare.
“Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿por qué me has dejado?”
You open your eyes for real. Only, over you stands, on the same day, on the same pyramid, hovering over the same sacrificial stone, a blanco man, grinning from head to toe, armed with a rifle at his shoulder, pointed at your heart. You brown, brown man. You poor, poor marrón man.
He fires. You die. The end.
“At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes.” — Borderlands