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November 09, 2007
Malpais

Pages of dawn lie flat beneath the bright eye of Venus. I am on the summit of a sleeping volcano in the Malpais of New Mexico. November's Orion fades over a wilderness of ancient craters, rough lava flows stubbled with tall, bow-legged pine trees. The sun finally rises, outlining the mesas of Acoma, the legendary Sky City where in the year 1599 Don Juan Oñate led Spanish troops to the spectacular quelling of the Acoma people. In an act of unforgettable brutality, Oñate ordered one foot cut from every male of the tribe, child to adult. I imagine the pile buzzing with flies, old leathered soles of hard working men, soft feet of children. Thus, Oñate hobbled his enemies and took a generation's command of the great fortress held high among ochre cliffs. Oñate's descendants are now dirt poor driving old flatbeds and making their living off of firewood cut from these forests, forests growing brighter as the sun flies over mesas where the Sky City still stands and the Acoma still live, now with a sign on the road leading in: NO VISITORS ALLOWED.

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