Three Poems

Tzotzil poet Enriqueta Lunez. Photo: Conaculta.

Jnak’oj ta sk’al ko’tak jts’uj ak’obal
noch’ol xkukavetik ta xokon jsat xchi’uk jnekeb,
ox-vo’ viniketik chamenxa la ta smul,
vu’une mu jna´mi jech li a’yejaletike
ja’ no’ox jk’ejoj ta jun muk’ ta kaxa li tseke.

 

Between my legs I hide a droplet of night
on my cheek and shoulder they linger like fireflies, 
the shades of three lovers,
I’m not sure a mark can really bring darkness
but for now my mole is hidden in a coffer.1

 

***

 

Jchamantik asat, me’
yu’un ta jk’el ka’i spukujil antsetik.
Jchamantik ave,
yu’un ta jkavta ka’i tas malem k’ak’al sbi  jtot.
Jchamantik ak’ob,
mi yal li sikil akubale, k’uk’un chlik jbots’ li ixime, 
ta jchuchbe sk’ak’al li k’ok’e, jpis jsat.
Jchamantik abok,
va xanavkun ta yut chobtik, ba jvulan  kanimatak, ba’ kejlikun ta ch’ul na.
Avokoluk, jchamantik asat, ave, ak’ob, abok
yu’un mujk’an jel jkuxlejal.

 

Mama, I need your eyes
to see our wickedness.
I need your mouth,
to shout my father’s name in the afternoon.
I need your hands,
to knead nixtamal, stir up the fire, make the sign of the cross.
I need your feet,
to walk across the corn fields, visit our dead and dance.
Dear mother, it is urgent, I need your eyes, mouth, hands and feet 
so I don’t forget we are rooted in the moon.

 

***

 

Mu’kun slumal  jtotik
ta jlumale ch’abal bu mukul smixik viniketik
ta jlumale ch’abal buch’o las kuch skurus
ta jlumale  ch’abal to’ox buch’o laj yuts’inta xchi’il ta vok’el
mu’yuk  to’ox boch’o la sko’oltas sba ta kaxlan
ta jlumale abektal ta kopal yik to’ox tilil, pom, tsij uch.
Jna’oj to lek
ta a-lumale xch’unik to’ox  mantal li tsebetike
xkuchik to’ox si’ li viniketike
li me’el-moletik sna’ojik to’ox sk’anel vo’
li jme’e sna’ to’ox smetstael xchinal jsat
vu’une jna’oj to’ox jk’ejba lok’el ta be 
kucha’al xjelav juntotik-junmetik.
Ja’ jech,  chvulto ta jol
ja’ to’ox avutsilal, k’alal mu’yuk  to’ox  achanoj  kaxlan k’op.

 

I am not the land of the sun
men’s umbilical cords do not lie on my land. 
no one carried a cross on my land
never did a brother threaten another on my land
no one wanted to be mestizo
on my land odors of incense, bay leaf and orange blossoms wafted from your body
I remember
young girls were diligent
men carried firewood
old men knew to ask for water.
my mother remembered the spell to cure a rash
as a girl I would often step from the road to make space
for an elderly uncle to walk.
Yes, I still remember your grandeur
you had it then, before speaking Spanish. 

 

1 Some Tzotzil believe that a certain mole, when found on a woman’s body, can cause the death of her lover or spouse. This belief, and the word for that particular birthmark (tzek), is fading from use.

 

Translated by Clare Sullivan

Languages

LALT No. 3
Number 3

The third issue of LALT features the debut of our permanent section devoted to Indigenous Literature with writing in languages from Mapudungun to Tzotzil, as well as remarkable short stories from Cristina Rivera Garza and Yoss, the rising star of Cuban science fiction.

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