Marías Mazahuas

Note: This poem was originally written in Mazahua.


On her back the smallest child,
others before her, yet others following.

They decided to discover new worlds
closed the windows and the door of the house
and the bean patch was left abandoned.
The more they were lost in the distance
the louder grew their pitiful cries
until even the owl went mad.
Where are you going, Mazahua mothers?
Where are you going, Mazahua girls?
Why take your little ones?
Why abandon your garden?
What do you seek in other places?
What do you dream of finding?
How do you imagine your new life?
How will other people receive you?
When will you come home again?
When will we see you again?


There is nothing over there!
You will be lost in a sea of people
they will deny you the grace of a greeting.
When one of them ventures even a disdainful look
they will call you Marías.
And you will have to sell Chiclets and oranges
to earn that holy name.


They beg alms to feed their children
they will be servants
if it goes well for them.



Then, they will grieve for their little village
they will want to embrace their fathers, grown old,
they will want to buy a grinding stone for their tortillas
they will dream of the green fields
they will imagine their underskirts, sashes, and shawls.
Although they paint their lips and lashes
they cannot conceal their birth in a Mazahua village
their glances and smiles will betray them.
Then they will remember their origins and weep.
They will go to church to pray for their return,
to again embroider their napkins
with little birds, flowers, fawns, and life.


They shall wait anxiously for the coming time
and shall prepare themselves for the labor of the harvest.
Once again they shall fill their baskets with food
they shall help their husbands to clear the fields,
shoulder to shoulder they shall practice the niboxte1.
We will hurl rockets at the sky
and they will know our mothers and sisters have returned.
We will dance the xote. We will drink pulque!
Then the arrival of the new fire will go forward.
The children will be children again, always at play.
In the plazas we will hear again the bustle
of buying and selling squash, beans, and ears of corn.
The odor of epazote2 will once again transfix the soul.
And we shall laugh! We shall laugh with joy!
We shall make a fiesta
and sing!


Where are the Mazahua mothers going?
Where are the Mazahua children going?
Why do they take their little ones?
Why do they abandon their little garden?
What do they seek in other places?
What is it they dream of finding?


Where do you go, "Marías," where do you go?


Footnotes:


1. A dance


2. A spice, also known as bean herb


Originally published in La voz del corazón: poesía mazahua contemporánea, México, Consejo Estatal para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas del Estado de México, 1997.