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Friday, May 5, 2017

When My Body is the Archive





When my body is the archive, researchers leave their tracks all over my language, my religion, my inheritance.

When my body is the archive, my stories belong to someone else.

When my body is the archive, gatekeepers don’t like to share their passwords.

When my body is the archive, someone else always gets the by-line.

When my body is the archive, my grandmothers are data proving our inevitable demise.

When my body is the archive, I am an uncomfortable anomaly, a ghost who has gone from exotic creature to pain in the ass.

When my body is the archive, you still insist your way is the right way to read me.

When my body is the archive, nothing is sacred.

When my body is the archive, secret doors respond only to my fingerprints.

When my body is the archive, I hear the sound of a million untold stories clamoring for release.

When my body is the archive, I carry my research with me everywhere I go.

When my body is the archive, the archives are no longer paper, ink, pixels, specimens, statistics, tenure-fodder, or conference abstracts.

When my body is the archive, the archive sits down beside you on the plane to that Indigenous Symposium in Frankfurt.

When my body is the archive, the archive raises its hand to ask about historical trauma, interrupts your presentation on pre-contact gender roles, rips the headdress off your child at Halloween.

When my body is the archive, the archive goes home with me at night, takes up ¾ of the bed, forgets to take its Metformin, asks if I want the rest of that chocolate donut.

When my body is the archive, the archives become flesh and blood with a salty genealogy, a hunger for truth, a weariness of the bones –

and you understand at last:

the archive was never inanimate

the archive was never dead

the archive
was never
yours.

Deborah A. Miranda

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