Two Poems

Zapotec poet Natalia Toledo. Photo by Diana Manzo, La Jornada.

Ba’ tobi

Nexhu’ daapu’ biruba xiñá’,
guidila’du’ nusiasi balaana laa.
Nacu’ ti guie’ biele gasi ne ti bicuini ná’,
ti xho’ cubi cayuu ndaaya’ ra birá gueela’.
Lexu cayé’ niidxi sti’ beeu naya’ni’ dxindxi.
Guirá’ niza cuyaa ne bi xti’ yoo li’dxu’.
Zedanda saa ne zuyaacabe ne xhelu’,
rendu ti larigueela’ ne ca i’cu’ pora guiluxe saa:
guirá’ ni nari’ni’ naguenda rirá.
Napu’ ndaani’ ladxido’lo’ ti guendaracaladxi’ caluxe
ma’ qui zagui’tu’ buñega ne ca biza’nu’
ne ma qui zaba’quilu’ lari ndase bichonga ne
dé quichi’
dxi gaca’ nanda’lu’.

 

First Resting Place

You sleep covered in red tulips,
your body numbed by honor.
You are a flower only just prized by a pinky finger,
a new aroma is baptized as night falls,
a rabbit drinks milk from the colorless moon,
a cornfield dances with the wind in your house.
Music will come and they will dance with your husband,
wrapped in your coverlet you hope the fesivities will end:
all virginity is ephemeral.
In the middle of your heart a desire expires,
you’ll never go back to playing with dolls
never run the streets in starched bloomers
when it’s hot outside.

 

Laníbidó’

Nacanu ti bandá’ naduubi’ sti’ bi,
ruaa bi richeza lu xnisanu
rutiidi’ xquibaxubi ladinu,
huaxa cadi nacanu ti daa reza.
Dxi nisadó’ gue’ ca nisa biina’
gúle ti dani zidi galahui’ guie lua’.

Napa’ ti dxumi guidxi guie’ xtiá gan’da’
ne biruba’ xiñá’ quiize’ dxi lanixpidua’ya’.
Zareenia’ ti xigagueta zuchaya’ ndaani’
guendaruxidxi naxhi ne xindxaa candá’ nisadxu’ni alcanfor.
Naa nanna’ xinga guenda bizabi,
xisi napa’ ti lari ro’ raca yoo
ra rusieeche’ cani nadxibalú ruxhague’ doo xpisuude’.

 

Birthday

We are a clear-cut portrait painted by the wind,
his mouth wrinkles our waters,
the palette knife glides by,
but we aren’t a broken surface.
When the sea dried my tears,
a salt mine formed in the center of my eyes.

I have a basket full of fresh basil
and tulips to give away on my birthday,
I will emerge, my tray overflowing with honeyed smiles and
          candy-coated favors.
I know all about being an orphan,
but I have a tent where I delight
anyone who dares to loosen my underskirts.

Translated by Clare Sullivan

Languages

LALT No. 4
Number 4

The fourth issue of LALT highlights underrepresented but deserving voices from across Latin America, with a focus on women writers as well as special sections dedicated to genre-bending science fiction, indigenous-language poetry and prose, and the essential relationship between author and translator.

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