Seven poems, by Gloria Cáceres

From Musqu Awaqlla (2021), and Yuyaipa k’anchaqnin (2015) © Gloria Cáceres Vargas

Selection, and translation from Quechua © Fredy Amílcar Roncalla

If you prefer to read this as a PDF, click HERE

Gloria Cáceres Vargas is an Andean educator, narrator and poet. In Peru, she has worked as consultant for the Intercultural and Bilingual Education Office of the Ministery of Education, and as Dean of the Social Sciences and Humanities at Enrique Guzmán y Valle National University of Education. In Paris–France, she has offered Quechua courses at the National Institute of Languages and Civilizations (INALCO); as well as Spanish and Latin American civilization courses at the University of Paris 3 Nouvelle Sorbonne, and the University of Cergy-Pontoise. She has published Reqsinakusun (1996), Munakuwaptiykiqa (2009), Wiñay susqayki (2010), Yuyaypa k’anchaqnin / Fulgor de mis memorias (2015), and Musqu Awaqlla / Tejedora de Sueños (2021). She translated into Quechua Warma Kuyay and other stories (2011) by José María Arquedas. The following poems from her last two books were selected and translated from Quechua to English by Fredy Amílcar Roncalla. The eroticism of this poetry–attentive to the voices of the wind, the rain and the sacred mountains, Apus–empowers the voice and body of Andean women, and the richness of the Quechua language to sing them.

Puquy mitapa saqaqay rapinkuna

Puquy mitapa saqaqay rapinkuna
Vivaldipa musikanman
Hanaq pachapa waqaynin chay puquy mitapi
maypi urmasqa rapikuna
llimpisqa pampata awanku
yupiyta chaskinanpaq.

Violinkunapa tunadanwan
sunquypa patpatninkunawanpas qispirimuni 

kuskasqa chakiywan tusunaypaq
chay llimpillasqa pampapi.
Sallqa sunquytaq
kuyakuyta munapayaspa
Hatunkaray tunada
puriykunata huk kitiman
Chaypim arpapa violinpa
miski waqaynin
llaqtaypa uchuk paqchanpa
musikanwan musquchiwan.

Aysachakuq musikam,
Vivaldipa wata mit’ankunawan
karumanta hamuspa
ama waqaspalla, niñachay
sunquyta ninku.
Huk puquy mitapa rapinkuna, mawk’ayaspaña
wayrawan maymantachá hamunku.

Fall sounds

Gentle sounds of autumn
fill me with
Vivaldi’s music.
Falling leaves of celestial sounds
weave a colorful tapestry
for my steps.

This realm of color
is where my feet dance happily
following violin melodies
and my wild heart
yearns for love beat
by beat.
This great song
brings my path to realms
where sweet harp and violin notes1
remind me the sounds
of my town’s small waterfall.
That uplifting music
makes me dream about Vivaldi’s stations
while your distant memory
comes around and says
Don’t cry no more, dear.

Suddenly aged
the autumn leaves
travel with winds
from unknown places.

1 Most indigenous traditional music in Peru is played with harp and violin. It is also said that musicians learn their melodies in sacred waterfalls (translator’s note.)

Parapa sunqun tapsikun 

Parapa sunqun tapsikun
chillikukuna mana usyaq
llakinta takiptinku.
Parapa sunqun llakikun
pisqukuna qasikayta maskaspa

Parapa sunqun upallakun
timpupa marqankuna
mana llakikuspa muyuykachaptinku.
Parapa sunqun kusikun
killa hunt’api mana samaspa

Ñuqataq, parapa sunqun kayta munani
qamwan musqukunaypaq.

The rain’s heart trembles

The rain’s heart trembles
when the crickets
sing their infinite despair.
The rain’s heart is saddened
when the birds leave
looking for peace.

The rain’s heart becomes silent
when the arms of time
turn around over and over.
The rain’s heart gets happy
when we dance under
the full moon.

And I want to be the rain’s heart
to dream about you.

Parapa llimpin

¿Ima llimpiyuqmi para qaraykiman chayaptin?
¿Ima llimpiyuqtaq ñuqapa qarayman chayakuptin?

¿Ima llimpiyuqtaq llimpikuna kachachaykunapas,
pukllaysapa kuyakuyninchik tinkuptinku?

Huk kutikunaqa parapas ninapas kanchik,
hukkunataq qawapayaq mancharisqa phuyukuna.

¿Ima llimpiyuqtaq pacha, para wayllukuptin
kuskachakuq kusikuynin tusuchiptin?

¿Ima llimpiyuqtaq mayu llapanta aytiptin
para mana riqsisqanman ayqikuptin?

Huk kutikuna wayrapi puqpu kani,
hukkunataq llimpipa llipipiqnin.

¿Ima llimpiyuqmi qiwa chaskiwaptinchik,
maypi kuyakuyninchik maytukuyta maskaptin?

¿Ima llimpiyuqtaq manchakuyniy munakuyniypas
kawsaypa k’anchaqnin wañukuchkaptin?

Huk kutikuna hanaq pacha uqhusqa ch’imsikunawan
rupayniykunata qasillachin.

Rainfall colors

What is the color of the rain when it reaches your skin?
And what color is it when it reaches mine?

What is the tonality when our sparks and color
get mixed in our playful loving encounters?

Sometimes we are rain and fire,
and some others shy clouds afar.

What is earth’s color and the loving rain
when they dance their encounter happily?

What is the color of the river that cleans everything
after the rain leaves to unknown places?

Sometimes I am an air bubble,
and some others a spark of color.

What is the color of the foliage that welcomes us
when our passion seeks shelter?

What is the color of my fears and tribulations
when the light of life fades away?

Sometimes the universe calms my fire
with subtle humid gestures.

Now the rain has arrived dressed in light
illuminating my solid shadow
and bringing the messages of the Apus.2

Infinite rain of color!
Your heart is the color of the one who loves you,
generous and beloved rain.

2 Apu refers to the local gods, mostly guardian mountains (translator’s note.)

¿Pitaq kani?

k’anchaptin llantuyta maskakuni
qawarikuspa k’atatani
ch’in niqpi sunquykita

Intipa sunkanpi
musquyniy k’añakun.
Hanaq pachapa llimpi uchpakuna
tuta cayanankama mayt’uykuwan.

Urqukunapa kallpan
mana llakikuspa saqiwan.
kachiyuq wiqiywan
chinkaq yupiykunata aytini.

Mana usyaq kusikuywan
tusustin suyayki.

Yachankiñachu kunan
¿pitaq kani?

Who am I?

I look for my shadow when the light shines,
and tremble seeing myself.
I hear your heart

My dreams burn
in the sun.
Colorful ashes in the sky
cover me until nightfall.

The power of the mountains
depart mercilessly.
I rinse my lost steps
with salty tears.

I am waiting for you with a dance of infinite joy.

Now, do you know who I am?


mayuqa karunchakuspa
qasilla tukuq

Ichaqa chayqa

Mana imanaykiqa
manañam tapsiwanchu.
Chayqa chipayllam

When I look for you

When I look for you
the distant river becomes quiet
just like your heart.

That is just
a contest
between you
and my desire.

Your indifference
no longer bothers me.
It’s just a trick
to make me want you.

¿Chaypiraqchu kachkanki?

Sichus takyi manaña
iñiq sunquykita takinchu,
Qamqa, huk wayllukunawan.
Ñuqataq, kaypi, qunqayniykiwan…

Mayuhinam kawsay
richkan patpatyastin
sapa muyuriyninpi
K’iriykunata hamp’istin.

¿Chaypiraqchu kachkanki?
Manañam uyariykichu.

¿Ichapas pasapuniña
huk tiqsi-pachaqunaman?

Are you still there?

If my voice no longer
sings to your heart,
What am I to do?
You have other loves
And me, here, forgotten.

My life flows
like a river
trembling in each meander
and healing my wounds.

Are you still there?
I no longer hear you.

Perhaps I have departed
to other realms.

Kaypiraqmi Kachkani

Kaypiraqmi kachkani
Apukunata suyastin.
Karumantam hamuchkanku
sayk’usqa, maqanakusqnmanta.

qichusqa yuyayninchikrayku.

Ichapas nimuwanman
takiy kallpachasqankuta
ichapas munachiwanman
kuyakuq puka rosas waytata.

Tiqsimuyu patanpi
wiñay unanchayninta suyani.


I am still here

I am still here
waiting for the Gods.
They are coming from afar
tired of fighting each other.
They fought
for our dreams
our children
and our dispossessed memory.

Maybe they can tell
if my singing makes them stronger.
Maybe they could make me want
a loving red rose flower.

At the outer limits of the world
I wait for their eternal mandate.


For more about Gloria Cáceres Vargas

The translator

Fredy A. Roncalla was born in Chalhuanca, Apurimac, Peru in 1953. He has studied linguistics and literature, in addition to a long journey in Andean Studies, with a special focus on aesthetic elements. He is also a handcraft artist who works with recycled materials. He has published poetry and essays in diverse online and printed publications. He is the author of Canto de pájaro o invocación a la palabra (Buffon Press, 1984); Escritos Mitimaes: hacia una poética andina postmoderna (Barro Editorial Press, 1998); Hawansuyo Ukun words (Hawansuyo/Pakarina Ediciones, 2015); and Revelación en la senda del manzanar: Homenaje a Juan Ramírez Ruiz (Hawansuyo/ Pakarina, 2016). He is currently working on Llapan llaqtan: narrativa y poesía trilingüe/ Llapan llaqtan: trilingual poetry. His trans-Andean projects can be foundin the virtual ayllu: Hawansuyo Peruvian Bookstore,, y

From Musqu Awaqlla (2021), and Yuyaipa k’anchaqnin (2015) © Gloria Cáceres Vargas

Selection, and translation from Quechua © Fredy Amílcar Roncalla ~

Siwar Mayu, January 2024

The Memory of Plants in Three Poems of Gloria Mendoza Borda

Dulce naranja dulce luna © Gloria Mendoza Borda

Introduction, selection and translation from Spanish © Andrea Echeverría

If you prefer to read this as a PDF, click here

Gloria Mendoza Borda (1948) is a renowned Peruvian poet from Puno who currently resides in Arequipa. She joined the Carlos Oquendo de Amat Group in the 1960s and has published Wilayar (1971), Los grillos tomaron tu cimbre (1972), Lugares que tus ojos ignoran (1985), El legendario lobo (1997), La danza de las balsas (1998), Dulce naranja dulce luna (2001), Mujer, mapa de música (2004), Q’antati deshojando margaritas (2006), Desde la montaña grito tu nombre(2013), Amtasiña (2013), and Mi abuela, mi patria (2018). In the three poems below, included in Dulce naranja dulce luna (2001), Mendoza represents how plants communicate their memory. Three of them: the cherry tree, the avocado tree and the honeysuckle. These texts provide an ecological vision based on Quechua-Aymara forms of knowledge that transcend the anthropocentric perspective. To initially approach these poems, perhaps the best thing to do is to ask yourself: what do these plants communicate? What vision do they convey about the passage of time? What forms part of their memory? I invite you to read these poems within the historical framework of the political violence that affected all of Peru, and especially provincial cities and rural communities in Peru during the Conflicto Armado Interno (1980-2000). As you will notice, these plants cry and suffer the passage of time, nostalgically remember the past, and communicate their experience about traumatic episodes that happened in this context.


The Cries of the Cherry Tree

I am the old cherry tree

who saw them grow

as artists

I also knew how to be an artist

I also knew how to be a river

phosphorescent birds

would stay in my currents  

they made nests with dazzling weeds 

and they sang to life

my roots

keep moving forward

through the underground

I cry in the name of mother earth

in the skin of the boys


the desolation of the courtyard

I cry

on the posters

that they hung

on my mutilated arms

“Protest against the Cherry Tree’s Death”

I cry

because I don’t know the reason

why did they destroy my branches

I cry

in the name of the white doves

(those who came from the Plaza Mayor

they will no longer be able to shelter from the sun

under my shade)

I cry

because the sound of the boys’ pan flutes and guitars

stayed in me

they played in my lap

during the sunsets


I exist 

in our memory

I exist

I am the invisible cherry tree

that keeps them company

my fruits used to adorn

girls’ heads

that took shelter

in my skirts

why did the ax become enraged

with my silence?

from my invisible image

I predict life

I light the fire

my currents grow

I also feel bird 

I also feel man

I also feel artist

I also feel river.

Listen to Gloria Mendoza reading her poetry in Spanish

Looking for the Avocado’s Path

In these times

I did not bear fruit

it’s true

but my leafy green inspired

announced a time of hope

I tried to get closer to the sky

I walked more than a hundred years


towards the immensity

I flourished on the cliffs of silence

only the trace of my forms remained

the semi-destroyed sculpture

looking for my lost path

and the dismayed look

of my friends

I am the result

of changes and death.

The Honeysuckle’s Agony

Mother and lady


I cry my green agony

drunken my flower


the morning 

I scream

I implore

they don’t listen to me

I sing in the language of the green


and weak

my skin 

in other times

my fruit was honey

as a child

the sculptor Jorge Mendoza

took one of my branches

and soon

ran with my scent

looking for his mother

I was born

before all of you

‘the house of art’

came later

in my roots

lives the story

of men

that passed through

and left

I still exist

a cable

covers my fingers

crosses my feet

I hope the crows

don’t eat my leaves

in each contour

of my path

there is a wire

at each knot

I break and twist

I look at the blue sky

the song of birds

accompany my green symphony

wild dance

my heart

the wound

it won’t let me walk

a terrifying shadow

covers my eyes

from the sun

A white dove

drinks water

in the pool

in the well

the mirror

of my image

the water

doesn’t reach

my insides

I’m hung

from the throat













without truce

oh perfection

I cry my green

from so much spiraling

death stalks me

but does not find me

here I am friends




silent witness

youthful dreams

students go on strike

for struggles and triumphs

for permanent creation

for happiness


I cry

my green agony




For more about Gloria Mendoza

About the translator

Andrea Echeverría Langsdorf is an Associate Professor at Wake Forest University. She earned her doctoral degree in Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. She is the author of Yeyipun en la ciudad. Representación ritual y memoria en la poesía mapuche (Editorial Universidad de Guadalajara, 2021) and El despertar de los awquis: migración y utopía en la poesía de Boris Espezúa y Gloria Mendoza (Paracaídas Editores & UNMSM, 2016), as well as of several academic articles published in journals such as Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Latin American Research Review and the Canadian Journal of Hispanic Studies. She is currently working on a book that studies Mapuche visual art.

Dulce naranja dulce luna © Gloria Mendoza Borda

~ Siwar Mayu, October 2023

Introduction, selection and translation © Andrea Echeverría

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