Sunday, June 17, 2018

El Tratado de Tordesillas

It’s an old world, one I enjoy.  The lilt of Spanish, the coziness of la plaza, dando la vuelta, a slow way of life, savored like wine.  Time to saludar y platicar con todo el mundo.  The direct way of speaking, full of dramatic gestures and booming voices.  La frutería / la carnicería / la bodega.  The soft rhythm of time strolling across the sky.  La comida casually blending into la cena with the fragrance of una copa.  Friendships that last a lifetime and family that ties you to the earth.  Architecture that tucks seamlessly into the landscape, all curves and flores salvages reclaiming the upturned stone.  Buildings soak in history, cool caves wind like a labyrinth beneath our feet.  La gente anda, comfortable in their own skin; mi amor/mi cielo rolling like water off their tongues.  No one pretends to be anything but human, with all the faults and vices that give sabor a la vida, that make us unique and precious.    

But still, under all this harmony, there is a hidden sin, un pecado, that no one wants to confess.

You see, I am in the heart of colonialism.  This is where the art of domination was perfected and exported all over the globe.  I can’t help but wonder if what I am enjoying is the wealth, las sobras, that they brought back from las Americas, the relaxed lifestyle granted to those who live off of other people’s sweat.  I am both shocked and implicated when the guide in the museum talks of the discovery of the new world.  I didn’t know people still talked like that without putting it entre comillas.  Tordesillas is where Spain and Portugal split the “New World” between them, this pueblo’s nefarious claim to fame.  However, everyone talks about it as a point of pride rather than of vergüenza.  There is no remorse, or even acknowledgement, for the ancient worlds they were destroying, enslaving, and plundering in the process.  Only a little embarrassment for the regretful error of geography.  

Yet I blend into this sea of white faces,
comfortable despite being halfway around the globe.
Las raíces son iguales.
We have yet to atone for our sins of slavery, slaughter and devastation.

There is a mural en la calle a la plaza que me encanta y la paso todos los días.  It reminds me of the truth behind the façade.  The layered story floating beneath the surface. There is an indigenous woman with the árbol de la vida sprouting from her head, tears trailing from her eyes.  She is a mountain with una herida profunda.  From where a wooden cross pierces her flesh, a deep gash tears the earth in two.  To the west Spain pulls her apart, to the east Portugal.  Both men, “noblemen” with flags to identify them as so.  But nothing is noble about what they do.

This is the role of artists.  To lift the magnifying glass to our own skin, and to hold it there, even when it burns.  

Friday, June 15, 2018


Sometimes you meet people
and instantly know
They were placed
en tu camino 
for a reason.
The rhythm en su voz
Reverberates with a familiar cadence
Como una llama que baila en el viento
pero de repente grows still, 
rises erguida
And you find yourself holding your breath
in recognition
of a Great Soul.

Speaking to you 
through a held glance,
a soft touch.
Brushing your skin in passing 
like angel whispers.
Pulling you out of the crowd,
curando el espíritu.
Un simple soplado de aire.
En un sonido –
rodondo, sensual y sagrado -
blowing healing breath
through the curved spiral of horn.

“La vida es ritmo.
Ritmo es vida”

This blessed ancient cry, 
rising as if from the heart of the earth,
carries us through time.
Una huella que nos identifica
como humano.
The kiss that brings us to life,
a tingling in the skin.

Bésame mucho.  
Como si fuera esta noche 
la última vez.”

Just like that, you welcomed us, 
gave us the key to your world.
Opened your home,
your sun-kissed garden
with flashes of brilliant red poppies 
and taste of herbs.

Wise teacher and guide,
we followed you 
como peregrinos
into the cool caves
you carved with bare hands.
Smooth walls of la bodega
Infused with love,
of home, 
of family and friends.

Where all of us are equal
Nos hace iguales
compartir la comida, 
el vino,
la música.

Raising our voices 
to the strum of strings,
your fingers release
sacred spirits from the earth
that fill us with joy 
empapados de sonrisas
ganas de cantar y bailar
y saborear la vida
que el universo
nos regaló.

Gracias, Paco y María,
por haber abierto la puerta de su corazón
para que nosotros también pudiéramos
sentir el latido de la tierra, 
la canción en el aire
y mecer en el agua que nos da la vida
y que corre como sangre en nuestras venas
recordándonos que todavía es posible que

“the world will live as one.”

Con mucho respeto y cariño,
Hope Ruiz


Your breath called me over the sea.
My body tense, resistant, stubborn.
But today I felt Your air on me
Kiss of angels’ wings
Whispered across my skin
And my pores opened to hear You.

Sudden intake of air
to recover what I once lost.
Like a precious trinket, 
shimmering beneath the water,
I remembered
the innocence you stole
the last time I walked this earth.
You stole what was never yours.
And now She calls me back to reclaim it.

And I run, 
muscles strong,
lion ink bold on my arm.
Music pounds in my veins,
as I find my way back.
To hold you,
to console you,
to tell you it will all be all right.
That we overcome and rise above in the end.

Looking back, it is he who turns to dust.
And I walk triumphant into the sunset.

Soul mate

Time bends
when I am with you.
30 minutes can feel like 3 days.
6 months, a lifetime.
Space stretches to embrace us.

You may be halfway around the world,
but we share the same air.
Our hearts still beat in unison
and our laughter sends ripples 
across the ocean.

I close my eyes and 
touch my toes to the sweet kiss of water,
radiating from your shores.
Your sparkling eyes gaze at me lovingly 
from Her reflection.
She, our willing messenger.

Even the mountains and rocks 
seem to recognize us.
Reincarnation of Savitri,
the love that breaks 
the chains of time, of lifetimes.
To have found each other again in this one,
after such a long, arduous journey,
is a gift I treasure.
Fully aware I am living on borrowed time,
I am grateful.

It is this awareness that allows us to sink
below the surface
and savor the moments granted,
Shimmering in water,
as the precious treasures
They are.