Friday, May 6, 2016

Shiprock: for Ashlynn Mike


For Ashlynn Mike

She was a little girl, light bending through a prism, a dream on its way towards awakening.  Her footsteps on the face of this earth leave behind small imprints that will exist and exist even as her Ancestors take her into their arms and tend her wounds.  She was a story unfolding its wings and drying them under the heat of a beloved yellow sun.  They say her brother escaped, but I know he will bear that unfinished story the rest of his life, unable to tell it, unable to put it down.  And the tragedy comes back on us like a riptide when we hear that an Indian man did this to them: One of our own.  No theory of historical trauma or lateral colonization makes this death make any sense.  No religion dulls the way the breath of the world catches, seizes, can’t recover.  How many of us have walked that same road, how many of us have been that little girl looking into the van, that brother who wouldn’t let her get in alone but still can’t stop what happens?  How many of us felt our hearts clutch up like the fist of lightning so close we could smell the scorch on the back of our necks?  I did.  I was lucky.  I walked back out of that van.  I don’t know why my life was spared; his hands fit around my neck like a steel choke collar forged beyond mercy.  Afterwards, he let me go.  I shouldn’t have to be grateful for that.  I am.  I shouldn’t have to wish that for her.  I do.  Because it’s precious, that thin strand of spirit singing in our flesh; it’s holy.  Even when it is twisted and made to curse in ugly notes of fear and pain, the sound is worth enduring for what tenderness and compassion may come later, in hands that cherish the raw music we will learn to make.  Hands that comfort, reach back in time, lead us through grief.  She’ll never know this.  She was a little girl whose foot hurt; she was taken by someone traveling with brutal, invisible companions beneath his skin.  We can’t save her now.  We can only save the ones still out there, walking on our roads, living in our homes, seen out of the corner of our eyes.  How shall we save them?  Oh my relatives - there are as many ways to save them as there are girls, or little brothers left behind, or blue butterflies fanning their cocoon-damp wings before flight into early May air.

Deborah A. Miranda
Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation

Ashlynn Mike was 11 years old. She and her brother Ian were abducted on Monday, May 2, 2016 after disembarking from their school bus near their home in New Mexico. Ian was later released; Ashlynn was sexually assaulted and killed. Her body was discovered on Tuesday.  A funeral service for Ashlynn will be held at 10 a.m. Friday May 6 at the Farmington Civic Center.

RISE: Radical Indigenous Survivance & Empowerment's photo.


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