Three Poems

Mèphàà poet Hubert Matiúwàa.

Ajngáa 

Mùrìgu ló’ ajngáa rí màyáxíí ináa ló’,
rí mà’né màdxaúún ètso rí gìdiù itsí,
mù’gíi ló’ xùù yàà mbàà
rí mà’né jambaà gajmií tsí nàguwá ná xuwia ló’,
tsí jùwá imbá jùbá, tsí nàguwá awún ru’wa, tsí mbro’o nìwáxúún. 

Mùrìgu ló’ ajngáa ná awún ña’ún gìñá,
ná xtóo àbò’, ná àjmùù xndú mi’xá,
ñù’úú mà’ga ajngáa ló’, mbambá mbi’i, ná màjiún jùbà’ idi. 

Mùxkaxíi ló’ a’óo wìyúú ñò’òn
tsí nìyáxíi tòkaya’
gájmàá nàma’ ná ajmúú: njgòlo, njgòlo, njgòlo, njgòlo; 
ná wàjíi nùxkama mijnà ló’
xúgé’ rí nàmba’tò ina ló’. 

Ìdo nù’thá ló’ ajngáa gìná drìgúún mbúanùu, 
nù’tháa ló’ ajngáa rí nàyaxè,
rí nàyáxìì, rí ndá’yà. 

Mùyaxiìn ló’ wàphá iñúu ixí,
a’óo iná níjndóo,
khamí jambaà mbá jndí drígòò adóo ñá’un ndáan, 
ikháa tsí jàyá jambòò jùma ló’. 

 

The Word

Let us offer the word and gather a face,
let bone listen to the grey rock,
let us spread the great corn sheaf’s breath
and share a path with other flesh that speaks,
people from the next ridge, ñu savi rain people, people born of the night.

Let us leave word in the wind’s ear,
on the serpent’s skin, in that fig with white roots,
our voice will go there, day after day through the chalky earth.

Let us wake up the silence of the bird
who defended rainbow and marsh
with his song: njgòlo, njgòlo, njgòlo, njgòlo;
the place where we come together different
once we open our face.

When we say the sad word of our grandparents,
we say: word who looks,
who defends, who lives.

Let us lift the offering of ripe corn kernels, 
a dry husk’s shout,
the inch worm’s round trip
through paths of memory.

 

A’wá Mè’phàà 

I’díuu imbá júbà
idiúu ñàún’ ná nìdxú’ ranújngáa gòn’, 
ná nejné gúwán smídáa
nàndixíín ijíín ñò’ón tsí tsa’tsá nàkúún. 

Awúan’ náa ná grìgòo wiyúú a’ó, 
awúan’ ná nakìì agu’,
ná ndàyáa skíyuù tsísxjnda. 

Ná awúan’, nà’khá ló’ jùbà’, nà’khá ló’ xuajén, 
nà’khá a’wá tsíngìna, lájuín xtóo ixè ñajún’, 
mòjmó’ ga’kui ìná nìndxó,
à’gò agu’ gòn’ (mujer fuego de luna). 

Go’óo xuwi rí nà’thán ñajuán’,
nìjní nìnujngòò mbí’í tsiàmáa ná nitaxnáxe i’diàa, 
ikhaa rí nìgídaà tsúdáa awún rindáa, 
ná itsúun ìkùùn gìñá,
à’gò ràjùùn agu’ (mujer lengua de fuego). 

Ikúún, iya ndáoo xtángòthó,
mixtí nìxmí xtiñúú mbró’on awún itsúú ìdáa,
khamí nìña’jngú xtrakhiin tsí nixpítá mijnà ná júbàá 
tsí nènè rí mìgú ajngáa ló’. 

 

Mèphàà Voice

From another forest’s blood
my ashen hand upon your moon’s path, 
upon your motionless waist
the wheeling of barefoot birds.

In your belly my walking in untamed silence,
in your belly the fire’s full bloom,
nourishment for chalky stone.

From you, I come earth, I come people,
I come sad word, tiny stalk,
yellow pain upon your leaf.
à’ gò agú gòn (fire-moon woman). 

House of flesh that speaks,
your story of spilt blood goes by unnoticed, 
beneath the great storm, your back,
stone of lizard spirits,
à’ gò rajúun agú (fire-tongue woman).

I, tongue-soaked chrysalis,1
dressed the night with colors in your amber eyes,
in one gulp I swallowed insects that swarmed mountains 
so that our word might rest.

 

Mbro’on rí maxigú ló’ 

Mbro’on rí maxigú ló’,
magu’thún matsúu xuajén,
mbayóo manújngóo gixàà tsí naxkáxíin nìmá,
mandxáun a’ún xùwán tsí numbra’tháa inuu numbaa 
mbáyóo i’di rí nàgayúu numuu ijíín go’ò tsí niwathángujuíin. 

Mbro’on rí maxigú ló’,
màgò àjmá ìdúú mbi’i,
khamí màjndáo raún numúu tsí nixnáxe mbí’yúun 
rí magóo màjuwá majàn’ ló’,
mayaxúu xnu’ndáa ná xphíphíin xtíla,
mbáyùún xí’ñáa ló’ tsí nundá’a numúu ijíín,
tsí jùwá Norte,
tsí niguanúu ná jambaà. 
Mandxáun chádúun xàbò tsí màxíín, 
tsí nundu’wa khamí nusxndámáa ló’, 
tsí nasxngóthigáa rè’è,
khamí nuriya’ ajùan’ inuu ndxiyá ló’ i’dú. 

Mbro’on rí maxigú ló’,
mbáyùun nana tsí nujián’ xtíin ná màtháa,
tsí nòne majáàn gàá’ tsí magí’dúun xkújndú,
mbayòò nanì’ tsí nixní’ a’óo jùma,
khamí mandxáun a’óo agú ìdo nà’né xká’tsà mìna’ nè gàjmáa ixè
 rí ma’níí ifíí rí maxná skìyúu gu’wá. 

Ìdo màtsuu mbro’on rí maxígú ló’ àjmá nòtho, 
mawathúun àjun’ khamí màgayoo xàxthu’.

 

On the Night I Don’t Sleep 

On the night I don’t sleep,
I will wait for the town to awaken,
I will watch the devil go by rousing souls, 
the voice of dogs will open the world’s face 
and blood will flow for stolen daughters. 

On the night I don’t sleep,
I will have two eyes in daytime,
my mouth will run dry for those who offered their life
so that we might live well,
I will watch the dream in chicken feathers,
grandparents praying for their children
who live in el Norte
and those who never made it off the road. 
I will hear the boots of men in green,
laughing at us sons of bitches,
trampling flowers
aiming dead at a roadrunner.2

On the night I don’t sleep,
I will watch women washing clothes in the river,
cooking the armadillo that will start the fight,
and my mother who carried my voice as remembrance
I will hear the blaze caressing the firewood 
that will paint the comal that will nourish the home. 

When I don’t sleep twice and then awaken 
I will grab hold of my rifle and head straight for the corn field. 

 

1 Since it is believed that a chrysalis provokes speech, when a Mèphàà child does not learn to speak, a chrysalis that has been soaked in saliva is hung around his or her neck. 

The roadrunner was one of the beings who founded the Me’phàà people.

 

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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