- Give Me Land Lots of Land
There came another letter. “Look, Noéh, you need to send out the birds in pairs to see if the world is drying out.”—A Zapotec Story of the Flood
In the dryings after a flood, there are revisions. In new versions, there are redrifts and “transveillances” across cultures. There are reconstructions of the sentence. Which I hit when writing. Because the sentence constructs a way of thinking which does not include the transpositions, the fragmentations, the interjections, the disjunctions. Because, in the adjustments, something can be done that is not complete. Creating new ground after the old was covered. Imagining who and what and that we are. A search for alignment also for disruption. And how can both go both ways at the same time? Calling the reader to create meaning of course while giving the inventions of words their say and my say. All that going at once.
Often I write about my own heritage, white and Indian, as an outsider to it. As something that was put away and found different from how it was before it was gone. In the Whiteness special issue of the Hungry Mind Review, I wrote about the white part of my heritage. It was as difficult as writing about the Indian. It began, “Some of my ancestors came from Europe. Others were here when the boats arrived.” It [End Page 114] ended, “I guess I would define white American culture as industriousness without overwhelming tradition. It doesn’t seem to have anchors, but slides past others into port. Into the port it created, after all” (7).
These transveillances are the crossings of cultures. Passages not necessarily of choice but necessity. Afterwards there are dryings.
God Put an And in the World (or, There Would Be Others) Noéh: The Story of the Biblical Flood (Zapotec) 1
There was a man called Noéh who was much respected by the people. As Noéh was a Catholic he went to church. He did not forget God, nor was he forsaken by God. God sent him a letter. The angel came down from the sky and gave it to him at seven at night. The letter said that if the people did not go to church, God was going to put an end to the world.
Sunday morning Noéh went with his letter to the town hall, to the president. When Noéh arrived, he gave the letter to the secretary, who was writing. All assembled to hear what Noéh had to say, also to hear the letter.
The secretary said, “God says that you are to hold mass and pray, if not, gyeb Dios, el santo Dios, will put an end to the world.”
They laughed. “Noéh is crazy!” They did not believe God sent the letter. “Noéh himself sent the letter. Let us kill him!”
Noéh said, “I will explain to God that you do not believe what he says. I am going.”
At seven at night the angel came again. The angel was Gabriel. He asked, “What do they say?”
“They are going to kill me because I am crazy. They do not believe what the letter says.”
“Sta bueno! Go and see them again, and if they still do not believe, God will put an end to the world next week.”
The next day, Noéh went to the president and said, “I come again. Excuse me for disturbing you, Señor Presidente. If you do not believe that God is in the sky he says he will end the world.”
“Bueno, I believe it,” said the president, “but the people do not believe it.” [End Page 115]
The people assembled again. “Let God do what he wants! We do not believe.”
“Well, I will tell him that it is true you do not believe. But pray a little to God to forgive us.”
“No, let God do what he wants! We are not going to church. We do not think there is a God.”
“Well, I will tell him.”
The angel came again and asked what they said.
“They do not believe in God...