Three Women

Thoughts on Transformations, International Women's Day 2005

by Luciente Zamora

Revolutionary Worker #1270, March 13, 2005, posted at

Mariela wears a big red flower in her hair.
Her walls, paintings, poems, and culinary delights are bold statements
full of color and unexpected sazón.
She can hike up rocky hills wearing a summer skirt and platform shoes--
she laughs loudly and full of sentimiento.

Mariela never used to wear red. Someone had once told her that red was not a flattering color on morenas . But she loved the color and the way it looked against her skin. One day she put on a red dress. Not just any dress, but a really bright "look at me" shade of red. She didn't want to feel that way again--ashamed of the color of her skin.

She's fought to lift up mujeres for most her life. She's helped young women in abusive relationships, given them shelter, and internalized some of their pain with the hope of lightening their load. She's helped a few here and there, but there are never enough bandages for her to treat every wound from every woman who walks through her door.

On the nights she thought she might burst she drove away from the city--rolled her pants up along the shore and walked feeling the smooth rocks and seaweed press against and wrap around her feet. She would peer through the clouds, looking for stars. But sometimes the clouds are thick and it's hard to see the stars-- she smile anyway because she knows they're there.


Valentina's voice is deep.
She knits white and sky-blue doilies that puff up like clouds on her couches and love seat,
and she smokes, even though her husband never liked it.

The day she heard the church bells toll,
she threw off her apron, picked up her machete, and with every breath
fought against the government
that wanted to pave over their fertile green fields with asphalt.
She felt complete for the first time in her life.
She has started to have dreams about flying.

Valentina doesn't like to be called brave. She told me, "Anyone is capable of doing things that no one expected you to do, or that they don't want you to do, or that you didn't know were in you."

When the Mexican government wanted to pave over the communal lands in Atenco that her ancestors had won in the Mexican Revolution and build an airport over it, she felt her blood boil. The raw injustice of it made her fight it.

For the first time she stepped outside her home. Not literally, like to go to the market or to visit a friend--but to the world around her and the entire planet.

She sees that the problem is so fundamental--imperialism feeds off the people and the Earth's resources to survive. The tractors keep digging, the cement mixers keep grinding--imperialism is destroying the Mexican countryside and filling the cities con la gente sin tierra--sending thousands of men and women through the desert, desperate to reach el Norte .

She also sees the faces of the dispossessed--the women selling trinkets along the side of the road, the children selling chiclets, the older ones they call traga-fuegos who put chemicals in their mouths to breathe fire, and the youth who sell their bodies on the street. Some have hollow eyes which can only be made to see again through some very dramatic upheaval and the kind of love that does not yet thrive on these mean streets; but in other eyes there is still a chispa--a twinkle still burning behind the bravado and the hustle.


Ernestina is almost 60.
When her employers asked her to be a live-in housekeeper--
they also told her to get her own refrigerator.
They don't like the smell of tortillas mingling with the other food.
She sent them straight to la chingada and didn't look back.

Ernestina never married--she never wanted to and still doesn't.

Books--she has always wanted to read a book through, but she has never had the time.

Washing, ironing, folding, cooking, cleaning, scrubbing--there isn't a moisturizer in the world that can heal the cracks on her hands. Every day, it's what she does as if that's what she was born to do. She does it as a live in housekeeper and for her family on her days off. She tells herself, "I don't know how to read anyway--so what difference does it make?"

But she can't stop thinking about it.


Today, Mariella can see the stars.
Today, Valentina's heart does not ache uncontrollably.
Today Ernestina isn't too tired to think.

Each cloud looks like a flower
and the petals blend into different shades of red.

Three women have encountered a great scientist,
reality and a dream.

They are at the top of the precipice
It wasn't easy
The cliff is jagged,
but the view...

The currents in the ocean underneath are strong--
They can crush and swallow.

Three take flight.
What exists beyond what their eyes can see fills them with awe--
They are amazed by its beauty and magnificence.