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acequia poem

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Anyone who has farmed in New Mexico can tell you any myriad of stories about the acequia  culture that exists there. Acequias community-managed irrigation ditches that, when stopped up, flood fields along their length. This practice is centuries old and integral to the traditional ways of farming in the high desert of the region, and it closely dictates the yearly, weekly, and daily rhythms of agriculture.

First thing in the Spring, before they even think of planting, farmers across New Mexico go out with spades to participate in a ditch cleaning. They elect a majordomo (from the same root as mayor) to manage the flow of water to each farm, and they irrigate only on their allotted day. Sometimes, in the heat of noon, your majordomo will appear out of no where waving his arms frantically yelling that Ayy! There are gophers in the ditch, and you’ll grab your boots and a shovel, and drive out right quick to plug those holes up. It’s a beautiful, sometimes comical, and sometimes dramatic (seriously, they could write soap operas about this stuff) practice in which citizens co-manage their common resource of water.

In Taos County, NM, however, some believe the practice to be under threat from corporate and state infringement on water rights. The following poem was written in response to the Abeyta Settlement of 2012, which you can read more about here. You can see the original post of this poem and read the poet’s notes, on Robert Mirabal’s website.

Acequia Poem 
By Chris Pieper

I am water, I transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,

Behind master-locks, concrete walls and the pegged barb-wire strands,
Beneath tall laws and secret negotiations,
you lock me up
is this your meaning of autonomy?
to me its a meaning of captivity, locked up tonight once again
You can explain to children’s, children how we lost our fight;
that is the cuento’s you will recite to-night

They’ll never know the shame that brands–
Dark-shame on mocking the gifts from the heavens,
One day maybe they’ll get those draggin’ days all right,
Sent from foreign commands from our future children,
to set me free once again and hopefully the men who turned the keys and sold me’s children will recognize me still. 

I am water i transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,

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