El Viaje—The Journey—Transition
By: Elder Gideon
…Ay que destino, How destiny para ponerse a llorar can make one weep The faintest falsetto in the wind From hundreds of miles behind her Was all her tears could hear. Between sunrises on her right, And sunsets on her left, Nothing else was sure but Coyote smuggler Driving her across the desert. Whatever was in the trunk of their car That brought her to this freight depot Was enough for Coyote to trade it With a narco speeding out of sight. trafficker Coyote led her to the farthest building Back along the train tracks where There was no sleeping day or night in the roaring of LA BESTIA. "The Beast” Narcos occupied these buildings, Demanded absolute silence From everyone packed between Infested walls. Unless the door opened, There was no sight outside this dark, But for the one time people panicked. Narcos hissed and abused them, Tore one out the door by his hair. No one heard the narco or the man Over LA BESTIA thundering by Until the narco kicked the door in, Holding up a dripping head—
Thank you for considering Elder Gideon's submission "The Journey" from his manuscript titled Without Passage, his second book of poems from his life as an educator, visual artist, and faith leader of a Gnostic community. For over twenty years, he's worked with diverse, often underserved young people everyday, whose stories continually impact his imagination and spirituality. He structured these experiences into a chapbook trilogy that section Without Passage into meditations on the anthropology, sociology, psychology, and archetypes of adolescence. He's a recent MFA graduate seeking book publication. "From the first chapbook in this manuscript concerning anthropological perspectives of continuing rites of passage, a brilliant research paper from field work conducted by Martha Garcia Ortega (2008) validated my interest in initiatory narratives: Mexicans of Guerrero continue to ceremonially regard the passage north for their young men and women into the United States as a test of adulthood. I attempted to ground Ortega's anthropology with a composite character made of two people I know and admire from my teaching career: a Salvadorean male student to whom I've taught ELD and an female Mexican staff member; both endured a particularly dangerous passage north while undocumented. As my adult colleague's journey was further complicated by the vulnerability of being a woman among predators, and given Guerrero's practice of insisting that their girls also hacer la lucha, I opted to frame this through a female perspective. The scenes in "The Journey" are those of my former Salvadorean student, who did in fact witness all of the events described. I watched him slowly recover from his trauma at my high school site over the four years I had the honor of knowing and working with him. Seeing him graduate last spring, resilient and thriving, impacted me deeply. "