Contemporary Events, General Writing, Poetry

Unrevised response to January 8th in Arizona

Dear Writers,

I was writing about a photo (the link to the photo is at the bottom) that inevitably linked for me to current events:


Child Riding Water Buffalo in Siam 1928:  Questions about the whole picture
Anya Achtenberg on Monday, January 10, 2011

You are riding the horns of the moon, quite at home, legs dangling, from the broad hill of back of water buffalo. Could you possibly be a child, with those eyes, or nothing but, with those eyes? You are wise, having not yet separated yourself from what you ride, knowing the buffalo carries you not because it is animal and you are human, but because it is bigger. One thin arm falls to rest on the horn, your hand clasping it as with anyone you’d take a walk with.

The fields are fuzzy in the lens; perhaps you don’t know that. But you are in the camera’s sight, and you look at something as if you could love it, and know it. As if you know it better than it knows itself. And so there is a breath of fear in your face, or perhaps I only see it in my confusion, having greeted the morning with a look at the photo of the eyes of the 9 year old girl dead the other day in Arizona, shot with many others, by a young man riding the horn of hatred, his eyes replaced by the hairs of gunsights.

Could he know that the chest of the girl he shot must have looked much like yours, the little girl boy chest of childhood, only whispering of its future?

Could he have seen that your eyes, little Thai child, may have had just the same look as hers, that girl he shot, or would he still be able to sort out Christina’s dark eyes from yours, and would that make him feel solid in the world to know that there are animals and Thai children and white Americans, and that they are all separate, not equal.

Would he have flinched for a moment, sorry to have killed Christina, when he knows there are so many others he might have shot first, that called him for killing first? Animal. Foreign. Asian. Latino. Black. Muslim. Native. Gay. Or was it simply that he loves that look, fear in the eyes of a child riding the moon of her childhood?

His power is not his own. Was it this kind of power that made rise the beginning of fear in the eyes of a child riding an animal who could have reared and bucked her flying headfirst into the fields and their stony perimeters?

Could she see everything from her seat in the past, from the horn of the moon, from her child’s heart?

Could she feel the tingle and tease of the hairs of gunsight on her small square chest above the moon and the lowered head of buffalo?

What grows in the fields around her?

Anya Achtenberg, 1/10/11

This comes from an image in Through The Lens, Pages-196-197 (Photos from years of National Geographic)



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