Congreso de la ACH
30 de mayo-1 de junio de 2018



Hugh Hazelton  (Canadá)

The Highway of Tears


I know that highway myself

used to hitch it east-west years ago, when I taught high school in a mining town

at the dead end of a dirt road that ran north from it

up to a reservation and then the prefab village across the lake

from the bitten raw stripped dust and giant rock-gorged machines

there was a tavern but no stores

so I had to hitchhike down the road and then out along the Yellowhead

another fifty k to a larger town with a supermarket

every two weeks to get food and carry it home in my backpack

all year long in January in the dark at -30° and June in the endless daylight

one cold rainy afternoon I got a ride with some people from the reserve

and we picked up a woman they knew whose face was beaten and bloody

she didn’t show the pain at all, just wanted to go into town

occasionally I’d see girls hitching along there, but didn’t know

what was happening to them then, the ghosts they would become

that haunted the darkened, impassive conifers where they disappeared

perhaps they were the older sisters of my students or just students themselves

or they might make it down the highway and survive for the moment

to take a place among the women along East Hastings Street in Vancouver

who left shadows on the barren wet walls along the bleeding asphalt

before they faded away in solitude or were taken to places of no return

and some might have been able to return to their homes in the north or west

to mourn the ones who never reappeared and forever ask where they had gone

disappearance is worse than definite death because the families and others

never know for sure no matter how long they wait forever wondering hoping

and the women who were once children with laughing eyes trying to find their way

are struck down or vanish unseen the invisible women the murdered women

the lost women the lonely scared brave trusting women

loved and never forgotten by the voices asking where


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