K’aja’antech waa le úuch ka’ache’,
le te’e túun takekemo’one’,
ti’ u yoknal k’iinil eneroe’,
kin máan ximbal ta wotoche’.
Tu jool a taanaj tu yaak’abile’,
ka jok’ole’ex ka’ach baaxali’,
to’on takelem xi’ipalo’one’,
te’ k’iwiko’ ti’ k-bin tzibali’.
Ku k’a’ajalten xan le j-noolo’obe’,
u tzikbatik bix máaniko’obe’,
le ka’ach bin tu palalilo’obe’,
bey xan ti u tankelmilo’obe’.
K’aja’antech le jáax ka’a tin t’aneche’,
ka’a tin wa’ajtech in yakumeche’,
ma’ ta núukaj in t’aan ka’a binechi’,
tu ka’atene’ ti túun lúubechi’.
Ti’ le jadzutz ba’alo’ob manja’anto’one’,
le úuch túun ka’ach in x-ba’aleche’,
mi’in wojel wa k’aja’antech juntéene’,
le áak’ab in k’áat in bisech óok’ote’.
Tin wa’ajti’a yuume’ ma’ tu yóotaji’,
teche’ jo’op’ a chen kextik a wok’ol,
tin wilaj beyo’ ka’a yajchaj in wóol,
mi’in wojel bix jo’ok’en ta taanaji’.
Bejla’e’ dzo’ok u jelpal tuláakal,
tu bin u xu’ulul to’on jujunp’íitil,
le ba’ax dza’abo’on k-beet wey yok’olkaabe’,
dzo’ok beetiko’ob le ba’alo’ob pajchajo’obe’.
To’one’ táan k-bin, dzoka’anto’on beyo’,
le tankelem paalo’ob ku lik’lo’obo’,
leti’ob úuch u yilko’ob ku beeto’ob,
le ba’axo’ob ma’ pajchaj k-betik to’one’.
Do you remember those times
when we were young?
Do you remember those January afternoons
when I visited your house?
In the nights, at the door,
you all went out to talk.
We, the children, there,
met up in the middle of the square.
I remember the elders
who told us of their adventures.
They made us all laugh,
lengthening our nights.
At the beginning of the year we spread out through the night,
since it was brief and the day was long.
It was hard to wake up at the next dawn
and complete our work in the fields.
Do you remember the first time I spoke to you?
When I gave you my promise?
Beautiful are the memories we’ve lived
in our past youth.
All the good things we did,
when you were my girlfriend.
Will you remember anything else?
The night when I wanted to take you to the dance?
I asked your father for permission and he said no.
You started to sob,
when I saw you it made me sad
and I don’t know how I got out of your house.
Today everything has changed.
Little by little we are wrapping up
the work the world assigned to us.
We have advanced as much as we could.
We’re leaving. Everything ends.
Now the young ones are growing up.
They must try to complete
the things we didn’t finish.
Translated by Arthur Dixon
From the verse collection U k’aayilo’ob in puksi’ik’al / Cantos del corazón [Songs of the heart]
Gerardo Can Pat was a Maya poet, musician, photographer, videomaker, and researcher of his language and cultural traditions. He founded the musical group Fuerza Tropical, and he participated in several reunions of Maya writers before his death in 1994. Among his many publications are the two volumes Maya k’aayo’ob suuk bejla’ abeono’o’be and La nueva canción maya [The new Maya song], compilations of Maya songs that include their melodies as well as their lyrics. His work appears in various anthologies. Besides being the first published poet in Maya language, he was a committed student of traditional Maya music and literature, as well as the rituals and sacred festivals of his people. At the time of his death, he was working on a documentary about, and for, his people, including recordings of traditional festivals that he planned to project at workshops on religious expression and identity where his people could discuss their importance. He had a clear goal as a facilitator of artistic and intellectual development in his community; as he said, “composers continue emerging from the people who feel the need to create and recreate themselves in their culture.”
Arthur Malcolm Dixon is co-founder, lead translator, and Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. He has translated the novels Immigration: The Contest by Carlos Gámez Pérez and There Are Not So Many Stars by Isaí Moreno (Katakana Editores), as well as the verse collection Intensive Care by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza (Alliteratïon). He also works as a community interpreter in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a 2020-2021 Tulsa Artist Fellow.
LALT No. 6 goes from the gripping true stories of literary journalism to the strange worlds of fantastic short stories and graphic literature. We highlight chronicles by Colombian journalist Alberto Salcedo Ramos, speculative fiction in a dossier curated by Mexican writer Alberto Chimal, and Yucatec Maya poetry and prose in our ongoing Indigenous Literature series.