Sunday, April 20, 2008


It's been awhile since I've looked into a Harper's Magazine. One day while I was at Barnes & Noble having a latte at their Starbucks, I decided to pick up this Harper's (April 2008) because they had a cover story about "contagious cancer". That got my attention, but once into reading, I came across an informative piece of writing from Iraq via a woman who lives in Syria about all the Iraqis who are refugees in the world, millions of them. Their stories made me cry. I was surprised at myself. And there is also this biting story by artist John Berger (p.46) about the Mexican Zapatistas in which this piece about Maria Concepcion appears. So read it, and buy a Harper's if you get a chance. It's a damn fine magazine. Did I get the name in often enough? Maybe you already know that.

Speaking of sincerity makes me suddenly think of a photo of a woman who is not wearing a mask. I cut the photo out of the daily newspaper La Jornada. Her name is Maria Concepcion Moreno Arteaga. Mother of six boys, whom she brought up alone. Forty-seven years old, living in a village 200 kilometers north of Mexico City, she earned her living as a washerwoman. Three years ago she was arrested by the Mexican government security forces and thrown into jail on the totally false charge of being involved in the traffic of illegal immigrants. One day Maria Concepcion found herself before six such migrants in rags, who had made it across more than half the country and were pleading for water. So she gave them water and a wedge of something to eat because, given their plight, "there was no way possible to say no”.

After being falsely charged she spent more than two years in prison. Her work in prison was the making of logos, labels for free-market clothes. With the few pesos handed over to her for this forced labor, she bought soap and toilet paper to keep clean.

The message of her eyes in the photo is: There was no way possible to say No.

Photo credit to Marco Pelaez/La Jornada, Mexico

TODAY'S HAIKU: too true too

Spring birdbath:
the crows leave sparrow skulls
in the rainwater.

Frightened by the
old man in the mirror,
my hair retreats.

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