Monday, December 6, 2010

to an anonymous Mayan woman devoured by dogs

This dedication sparked in me the same feeling I felt when I read Lucille Clifton's poem:

"at the cemetery, walnut grove plantation, south carolina, 1989"
among the rocks
at walnut grove
your silence drumming
in my bones,
tell me your names
nobody mentioned slaves
and yet the curious tools
shine with your finger prints.
nobody mentioned slaves
but somebody did this work
who had no guide, no stone,
who moulders under rock.
tell me your names,
tell me your bashful names
and I will testify

the inventory lists ten slaves
but only men were recognized.

among the rocks
at walnut grove
some of those honored dead
were dark
some of these dark
were slaves
some of these slaves
were women
some of them did this
honored work.
tell me your names
foremothers, brothers,
tell me your dishonored names.
here lies
here lies
here lies
here lies

Lucille writes to honor the slaves that were not mentioned on her tour of the walnut Grove Plantation. She writes and though she does not enumerate their hardships, she tells their story. They have been forgotten and overlooked. They did not matter in history to the person giving the tour. They did not matter enough to be named, and women did not count at all. my favorite part of the poem is the the repetition of here lies and the word play she introduces in the end with the word hear, as if to say to the reader, hear the lies they have been telling. In a way I feel that Todorov's dedication is a way to honor those who can not tell their story anymore. Those who no longer have names. The people who died at the hand of the Spanish who came and conquered them.

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