Where the clouds are scars. Hubert Matiúwàa

Original work in Mè’phàà and Spanish by Hubert Matiúwàa

Translated from Spanish by Paul Worley

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Ajngáa rí mà’nè gamakùún ajngià’ ló’ tsí tsinìñà’mijna ná jùbàá.

In memory of those who have been mercilessly killed in the Mountains of the state of Guerrero.

I
 
Ído nìwa’nií
nìkra’wo mìnà’ ná àwùún dììn,
ná txuú rí nìniñáá ñùù
tsí nìgawíín inuu à’wun.
Ído nìyáxì ló’
ndiyoò à’dyàá’ rigaà nìjañúù ná jàmbaà mì’xá,
xó má à’gyáà’ nàjmàgwi rigaà inuu ga’khò
ìdo nìru’tíìn ya’dúù.
Ná nàthamá’á gíñá
xtú’ún xí’ñà ló’ drígiìn,
ndiñùún xàbò ñajun xuajiàn ló’
ìdo nìkra’wì sìún ná majñùù ñàwúùn’,
khamí ná tsú’wòò nàkhúún
ndiyáà’ ikháán nìtso inuu jùbà’.

I

When they arrived

I ran to the Guayabo tree

to escape the screams,

hiding in a hole the worms had made.

I came out

and saw your son sleeping on the white road,

your wife burning in pain

as her breasts were cut off.

I told everyone

but their hands were tied in the turning wind.

The local authorities

chewed on their rage behind their fingers,

and I felt you kiss the earth

through the cracks in their feet. 

II 

Nìgìthàn’ rùdá’ ló’
ná nàtsuwòò iya àwúún gù’wá
rí nàngwá nì’ngáà’ màtsamájaán.
Nìwanúù ná àwún xnú’ndaa rundú
tsí nìgùmà mbajáà idò màjanú mbi’i rí màtàní’gú,
nìgithàn ngù’wà xúbà’ mbàà,
gàjmáá iyoo díí rí tàgayùù mújún
numuu rí nìyáxìì nè xà’.
Nìtháàn, àtiàwàn mínà’ lá’,
a’kwèn nàwa’ñáá mé’,
khá màxátiyàá màndíxììn xàbò tsudàà’,
àtàngàán ná ndàwoó xuajen Mbaa Màñàá,
ná étsò ñàwún nùgèwèn mbí’yàá.
Nìwajúntàn’ èjèn ná Xkuàá,
nàngwá ndiyùún rí mìdxuù,
nìru’wà mìjneè nàkwá’ ansdo xó yúwòò rà’khà,
ikháán tátadxáwíín,
nìdxù’ ná jàmbaà na nàxpíbì rìgà.

II

Our mother was waiting for you

under the leaky tin roof

you hadn’t finished fixing.

The turkey they had been feeding

for your wedding day kept dreaming,

while the empty clay pots

and the half-fermented chilote *

held on to you in secret.

They said they were looking for you,

that you’d better be careful, don’t let them catch you,

turn around in Tierra Colorada,

your fate is in your own hands.

The children wrapped

around your legs like squash vines

and said that your footsteps would root,

but you saddled up the lightning

and took off.

** An alcoholic drink made from fermented corn.

III
 
Mìjnà gùwà’ xnduú ajwàn’
rí ninbatiguíín tsudùù Tordillo,
ná agóo ñuwiin ajwàn’ nìwanuú xuwià’,
niríyà’nè rumià’ khamí nirú’wá mìnà’ nè gàjmàá txámboo awuàn’,
rí maxágáàn mbò jwèn i’dià,
niwa tsakhurámá inà’ ná nijàmbiyáa’.
Nigóó àkwán ná nìkàrawanùú xuwià’
nindúun muxnaá imba xè’,
nindúun màkra’wìín ná kwijììn ginùún
ikajngó muxnáà tsíake ñawán’.
Nigòò mangiìn tsúdaà xàbò tsí nìdáa,
nigòò xóó tsúdaà rí mònè mbámbá rìgaán,
mbro’on rí nìrmá’á akwiín xíñà ló’ ná idáà’,
na’thá itsí rí drìgà’ ná xkwaá
rí nìtabàá nijñuú nè, nìràthuun ajwàn’
khamí nitharmídájmii xàbò tsú’kwè,
idò nitatsá’wá mbi’yuu xíñà ló’.
Ninújngoo xtálítí ná inuu ixè xndú xkudí,
nì’thuún ru’wa rí ma’gàa,
rí màxagi’thàn nè,
numuu rí skiyáa nìwanuu ná inuu xpipíù
khamí akhiàn’ nà’nii akwiín idò naxphátríyà’ a’wóò.
Idò niwàà ítsáa’,
nìmba’tòò ná najngwáàn ajngáa ngínu’,
dxoò xó ixè rí rígà ná jàmbaà jà’nii
ikhaa rí ni’kà ajmùù khamí nirú’wá nè xuwiù’.

III

They drug you nine miles out of Tordillo,

hung your stomach knotted with tufts 

of your pubic hair from barbed wire

so the mbò jwén would not drink you

as the leaves prayed over your wounds.

The ants chased down bits of your flesh

to give you one last breath,

to hide you in nostalgia,

and harden your fingers’ resolve. 

They followed your gaze to end

the night our grandmother would be born in your eyes,

counting the stones say you laid

as you spun your name in bullets. 

The xtálítí passed through the mango trees

asking the rain to stop,

telling it not to wait for you,

as your strength clung to its wings

and your final memory sprang from the throne of its voice. 

A chasm swallowed the silence

as we gathered your bones

you were the fallen trunk

whose roots held my body. 

IV
 
Nìgùwaán wandá
nithèèn rí niwá’xnáá,
nida àjmà rí ma’nè gìgáa nìmià’ ná xoxtà xò’.
Ná xkuaá
nimbaá xàbò ràkoo matsíkhá ndéla,
khamí ma’nè ka’wùù i’dià,
mbawíín nìniñaan ná xuáá,
xóó kàmba’tha idaà’
nàtiaxíí ajwàn’ rí brakha ná gù’wá dxákuun
rí nì’duù ngámí ja’nii.
Rí magòò majnguàán’,
nìwátán’ gajmíì wáyò angìán ló’ tsí mañuwìín,
nìrugwaá gajmàá yujndà’ khamí a’wóo xkamída,
jamboò xkuaá ná nìwàtatxíkurigàà xuwià’,
idò nìtangiìn ná jàmbaà ìtsí bi’mbi,
dàtià’ ló’ nigwiín jañiin mbro’on
asndo nè’nè ríná rajúun gájmàá iya idúù.
Dxoò, ná xpápa xò’ rígu jèñò ajngáa wíyúú xuajiàn ló’,
ikhaa ska rí nixpí’tá itsáà.

IV

The crows came

to tell us you’d been shot,

that they had lit your soul on fire

by carving vines in your chest.

No one in Santa Cruz del Rincón

wanted to clean your blood

or mourn your body,

so you lay alone in the plaza

watching the bells

chew on their own fear.

People from Malina came down on horseback

to bury you.

Between the dust, the rifles, and the thunder,

they gathered up what was left of you

and returned up the twisted stone road,

our father carried you all night

his tongue turning to salt.

Brother,

our shoulders bear the town’s silence,

our wounded skin pierced by your broken bones. 

V
 
Mi’txà nidxá’nú ná mañuwìín,
xì’ñá ló’ nibrìgwíín gájmàá rè’è rí kíxnuu
khamí gúni rí mà’nè gamaku mikwíí,
xó ma’ nánà tsí nènè mbájàán,
nìmbrá’à nàkwá gájmàá iná skémba khamí iná láxà,
rí maxná nè xè’ khamí rí mà’nè nè asndo xó rí tàjáñáà’ xóó,
rí mà’tá nè rí xùù xuwià’ ngrigòò ná namàá.
Ná gu’wá ló’,
ndiyoò nìtsíkáminà’ siàn’ ná inuu ifíí,
ndiyóo nìkaxii àkhà’ ná awún guma,
khamí ná nànùu à’diá tsí nàngwá ni’goò màtànè nuwììn
nìtsíkáminà ixè rí nìndiàwà ló’
Rí magòò mudiìn ná jùbùún xi’ñán ló’,
nimbrá’án gájmàá àgú,
idò nìkaji’daán ná jàmbaà wajèn,
nìtsówòò i’dià agòò èjnà,
ná mbámbá nìkarawajwíìn
ndiyàà xùún khamí nìtsakhuramaà,
i’dià ni’thá xò’ rí xkwanii nùradíín angià’ ló’ tsí tsinìñà’ mijná,
mi xkwanii nandúùn mùradíín xugíín ijíín xuajiàn ló’.

V

You arrived with the dawn

and the elders received you, offering flowers

and smoke to the heavens,

the women who raised you wrapped your feet

with lemon balm and ceiba leaves

as a way of saying you had not died,

that the smell of your body was still walking around Ciénega.

At home I saw the skillets burn with rage

the tortillas swell in the sun

and in the whirlwind of the son you never met

the wood’s prophecies burned.

They wrapped you in a straw mat

to sow you in the womb of the elders

and brother, you dripped every few steps during the procession,

your face told us that cowards murder through betrayal

and that through betrayal they’ll kill our town.

VI
 
Náá màxkamàà rikaà’
xugè’ rí nìruthììn inuu yúwáà’ rá,
gajmàá xndú ajwàn’ nìxpí’thán
ná jùbà’ rí nìraxnì’,
nidùù nítú ñawàán
numuu ndiyúún rí màxáxkamàà i’dià,
khamí màxágajàà siún’
idò matsúù mbro’òn rí maxígú ló’.

VI

Where will I find you flowering

now that they’ve severed you from the vine?

They used lead to spread you across

in the land you gave me,

buried your veins

so your blood wouldn’t be found

and fuel our rage

in the unsleeping night. 

VII
 
Ná xíní rawun è’èn
ndiyóo nìnujngòò èwè rí nìrugàrá’án,
rí nàthangaà mbámbá gòn’
ná jàmboò xnu’ndàà rí kíxnuu.
Tsaá mà’níín ñàwán’,
ñú’ún ná rígà gu’woò yujndà’ rá.
Mbá’yáà xàñú’ idò makhàá mbi’i rí ngúwán,
ná awúun tsínà’ nàgumà dùùn
rí nàruwáà i’tsáà’
ná awúun mbáñò rí nàguxìì tsígo xuajiàn ló’.

VII

I saw your hungry isolation

pass along the blades of cane grass

every month, going down the roads of the dreams we told each other.

Whose colors will your hand wear,

Beyond the dust curtain?

The winter will sharpen my nails and strengthens my feet,

the clouds are made of scars

and gather your bones

into the folds of seeds.

VIII
 
Dxóo,
jayà’ xàyáa
khamí pañíti’ druwii,
khamí jayà’ ajwàn’ ki’níí asndo nákhi rí nidxúù,
rí màxpíta ga’kwìì tsí’gu,
jayà’ ajngáa rí nàguwíín wajèn è’nè,
jàyáa mángaa tsù’tsún tsí mba’yàá itsáà’,
ikhaa tsí magèwíin adíín siàn’ ló’
mí mastíngàà yujndòò xuwià’,
ná awùún ixè dxama,
ná awùún ixè kafé, ná rawùùn dxá’gu tsí ndiyáa xtáyáa
asndo náá nìrigòò nimià’,
jàyá mangaà mbá tsingíná rí nìxnáxìì inuu jùbà’,
mbá ndéla rí màtsikhá xuwià’ ló’,
khamí jagoò atsú tsí’tsún iya mikha rí ma’nìì rawàan’,
khamí jayà’ mangaà mbá xndú ajwàn’ rí mba’yáà mbi’yàa’.

VIII

Brother,

I’ve brought your poncho

to break up the years,

the kingfisher’s bandana

and the gun we’ve stained since you left,

I’ve brought this language that conjures the dead,

this hummingbird to find your bones,

to measure the worms of our rage

and scatter the dust of your flesh

among the banana trees

on the coffee plants,

on the lips of the girl you loved,

wherever your spirit walked,

I bring the sadness that I gave to the land,

a candle to light your skin,

three bottles to heal your mouth

and a bullet to look for your name.

IX
 
Natsíkáminà ndùù ná tsudùù xuajñàn ló’
rí nàmagwiì tsína’ èjnè,
xtaà ná mugíín ná nàwàa ina ló’,
rí phú gí’doo numaá ikhíín,
numuu rí nànujgàà xtiin wajèn ná rawun iya,
xó ma’ ikhúún nda’ñaá,
nda’yaá ajngáa wiyáa,
nda’yaá jàmboò skiyáa,
ná maxnáa tsiàkè mì’nà
inuu xàbò tsí nutsè xtángóo,
tsí nuxú’mii xàbò maxììn
ikhíín tsí nìrugwaà Inés gájmàá Valentina.

IX

The fog lights up

above the town,

boils in our scar,

you are wherever our faces come together,

you are missing from our interwoven lives,

I miss the absence of your rough silence,

I wish we could stand together and fight the people

who buy laws

and send soldiers to rape Inés and Valentina. 

X
 
Tsí jàyá iduu numbaa
nàniñùùn rí ná akwíin mbi’yaá,
masíàn mbi’yu ndo’on,
khamí ma’nìì xáñuun xìyú,
khamí ma’nìì iñùùn abò’,
á tsí’yóo,
rí xó inuu yúwà rí rígà ná júbàá ja’níí rá yè’
mbámbá a’wá ri nàguma ná xuajiàn ló’,
nàguma nè gájmàá xtatsíín a’wá,
mí gájmàá i’dià nàgumàà tòkayà
tsí nànujngoò inuu xuajen.
Dxóo,
i’wíín tsí nutha ñàjwíín gù’wá ñàjun
nùri’kwí ìxí,
nùtsángútigàá jàmboò àkwán
khamí ná ñawún ixè nurígwi xáñá rí nàstráka yodè’
tsí nà’nè xuàjin ná rakhóo numbaa.

X

The murders’ watchful hands

let the owls sing, the scorpions nest,

and serpents burrow in your memory.

Don’t they know that every vine

in the countryside looks like you?

every voice is made from your coat,

your blood becomes

rainbows that run through the town.

Brother,

other people are in charge of the workshop now,

they’ve changed the corn,

they’ve crushed the ant trails,

and they’ve taken down the nest the lark hung

to populate the blowing wind. 

XI
 
Agòò itsí na nagá’á mathá,
nàtanguún inuu yaja ri kíxnuu,
nàtanguún ná ñawún yàá,
ná awùún ixí,
rí magòò mà’nè màgajàà itsó rí ma’du rí ngámí.
Phú gàko rí ndi’yàà ló’
rí màtangaà iya rí màxmáto’o anjgáa ló’,
màtangaà nè gájmàá ajwàn’ xkarádí
rí nàxphí’ta itsí iduu abò’,
nàtangaà nè gajmíí xàbò
tsí nònè ndawìì gòn’,
tsí mà’nè ratòò ixè xàpho xuajñùún.
Ndi’yàá ló’ mangaà rí phú mbàà àkwiìn’ júbà
idò nàñawúún ijíìn,
mèdò awún xí nangwá ìnè nuwiin nè.

XI

Below the rocks where the river boils

I return to the counted beans,

to the squirrel’s hands,

to the measure of corn,

to harden the bones that bury our fear.

We found out it would return,

the water to choke our tongues,

the machine to split the serpent’s eyes

and dry out a raccoon

to decorate the tables at town hall.

We also found out

how the great Mountain

defends her children

in darkness, even if they don’t know her. 

For more about Hubert Matiúwàa

About the translator

Paul M. Worley is Associate Professor of Global Literature at Western Carolina University. He is the author of Telling and Being Told: Storytelling and Cultural Control in Contemporary Yucatec Maya Literatures (2013; oral performances recorded as part of this book project are available at tsikbalichmaya.org), and with Rita M Palacios is co-author of Unwriting Maya Literature: Ts’íib as Recorded Knowledge (2019). He is a Fulbright Scholar, and 2018 winner of the Sturgis Leavitt Award from the Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies. In addition to his academic work, he has translated selected works by Indigenous authors such as Hubert Malina, Adriana López, and Ruperta Bautista, serves as editor-at-large for México for the journal of world literature in English translation, Asymptote, and as poetry editor for the North Dakota Quarterly.