Indigenous Poetry and Prose


Two Poems by Jaime Luis Huenún

"The fire weighs less than silence, papay, your / thick shadow that burns / among wet logs; / less than the silence of night / and sleep, / the light that shines / off birds and rivers. // “May the fire be your brother,” it speaks, it lights up / your mouth, / the story of fallen plains / and mountains, / the war between gods, serpents / of silver, / the passage of men / through lightning and blood.


Two Poems by Natalia Toledo

"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 festivities 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."


"Betrayal," from Cherrufe by Mariela Fuentealba Millaguir

"Her face, engraved with wrinkles, couldn’t hide the sadness that she carried in her heart, a pain so immense that with every breath she took she would have preferred to remain asleep forever and to never again feel the tight beating in her chest.

The whole community had come to the great Cacique Millaguir’s vigil and funeral. No one could believe what had happened to him. A man full of life, a friendly peñi ready to give everything for his people lie there, silently awaiting his farewell."


“I don’t want my daughter to be ashamed to say Inché ta Mapuche”: A conversation with Mariela Fuentealba Millaguir by Sarah Booker

"I don’t want Carolina to be ashamed to say Inché ta mapuche (I am Mapuche), I have this courageous blood, the blood that thousands have died for, to preserve what I have today. I want her to learn our language, to respect who we are, to understand our cosmovision, which, without a doubt, everyone should understand. I’m sure that if we were to all think of ourselves as Mapuche or as another indigenous groups, the world would be much better because, before everything, the Mapuche respects, and respects the words and the origins of every living being on the planet."