Christina Acosta
Poetry Reading

I Remember 

Water rushes, wind blows, and I’m moved by the sense of your presence 

Wind chimes dance and play a breezy melody

I remember 

Warm summer days in La Puente with Nana and Tata

That familiar sound

Ta-ring ta-ring ta-ring

We’re eating cherries on the wooden table in the back yard

Placing pits in wooden bowls 

A furry family member at our feet

I remember 

In the depths of a meditation conducted by fellow faculty 

Asked to visualize a special place, the guiding voice says it could be a real place I have been, a comforting spot in nature or an imaginary place, a place in fairy tales

I find myself lying on the earth next to the Hiak Vaatwe, the Yaqui River and hear the water rushing by

I realize I am hiding and that this river was drained dry for agriculture less than 100 years ago

I weep for our relatives, our lives, our home

The vaatwe is comforting, I feel I have been there even though it only flows now during the heavy rains of monsoon summers, and yet it feels like a fairy tale now

Is that what fairy tales are?

Realities of paradise on earth destroyed for the search of one in heaven? 

I weep instead of breathe

I remember 

A word not kept by a family member

“Save the house for the grandkids”

Nana and Tata’s dying wish

They sold it for a new boat

The wound went deeper than personal greed, it was a colonial wound-magnified by hundreds of years of displacement and broken promises 

I raged before I healed

I forgive

I remember 

Booming voices, laughter and stories

Nana’s kitchen in Tucson

She’s on the phone with Tia-buela Terry

Chino and I run outside to hold horned toads

It smells like creosote after the rain

The same smell along the Hiak Vaatwe in my meditation 

I remember 

Cousin Chino went to Lo’oria when his car crashed 

My aunt, cousin Bella and her husband go to the site a few days later

We find your Nissan symbol from the car, anime affects and the scarf you promised to get back to me after we visited last

I find it in the gutter

You remembered 

You visited me in a dream a few weeks later

I was in Nanas’s bed where we used to snuggle and laugh with her

It didn’t feel like a dream

There you were, happy, whole and talking with a laugh in your voice like usual

“You’re alive!” I shouted. “Oh my God, Chino, we all thought something had happened to you!” Even in dreams it was too terrible to say out loud. 

I hugged you tightly and felt you hug me back

“Nah, I’m ok Chris.” You said.

I cried and squeezed you harder. 

“You’re all I’ve got left after my dad cuz, I need you.”

You waited for me to get ready to meet our family members in the living room as someone I didn’t recognize who felt familiar wet the dirt floor

We cleaned together and then you played with an orange cat on a cot on the wall as I tried to get dressed

The mud kept me slipping and changing into clean clothes

I woke up without making it to the ancestors

They remember 

Lightning flashing and horses feet stamping sacred ground

The sky weeping for the violence it sees

Mother Earth holds my ancestors in the mud as they hide and accepts them into the river

Some of us left and some of us stayed 

We remember 

We Live 

We live! In apartments on Tongva land, on reservations in O’Odham territories, and along our diverted river, Hiak Vaatwe, without access to clean water, to the life that was given freely by Huya Ania.

We are Yoeme-The People.

Colonial borders of many forms aim to divide us.

Not only from Yoeme but from our four legged, winged, rooted and other relatives.

We live to spite borders. 

We live with passion, with a rage that we transform into working hands.

Working to help one another, to tell our stories, to live. 

They called us stubborn for not giving in to the Spanish. 

Progress to them meant exploiting us, bwia-the land.

Enslaved and deported our warriors to the Yucatan.

We hid in the mountains and kept our ways. 

We remember Yo’ania-the old world

Our Pascola dancers dance, sing and make fun of the ones who thought we were foolish

Mother earth reminds them with shaking and weeping,

We live.

Some say we need to get with the times,

Get a little bit of someone else’s land,

Take someone else’s hand,

Preferably one that’s lighter than ours!

Forget about the past!

Look at how much there is to buy,

Your people, your ways were meant to die.

But we live.

Every time one of us relearns our tongue,

Speaking words our ancestors recognize,

Eating foods that strengthened them,

That strengthen us, 

We live.

We live! 

Remembering the river,

Celebrating it in our songs and dances,

When we respect the Maaso-the deer,

Wonder at their beauty and grace,

When they stand and look at us rather than run,

And the ancestors who died live in us, with us, through us, 

Stronger together

With the mother who loves us without fear,

No fire or brimstone, 

Never alone,



I am of Yoeme (The People)

We live along the Yaqui River

Along came the pope and steeple

Our resistance made them shiver

I am Yoeme Hatteiya

Yaqui fierce person proud and strong

Learning Yoem Noki Playa ;)

Steal our water but we live on. 

The ones who stayed to fight are here.

To kill that farce of Fire and Stone.

Our mother loves us without fear,

Her deepest gifts we’ll never own.