School

Note: This poem was originally written in Yucatecan Maya.


And the ants that sing, laugh, dance
and play in circles, began to cry.
She was born a woman, one on whom they
threw boiling water when she appeared
in the kitchen1.


You will go to school.
You will not be an empty head.
You will cross over the threshold of your imagination
enter you own house
and not have to knock at the door.
And contemplating a face that resembles yours
you will discover that from your eyelashes
night arrows are put in the heart of the land,
your innocence descends
and the grandeur of your ancestry rises.
You will go to school
and in the cupped hands of your understanding
you will contend with the draining of the womb of the woman of your race.
With your heel
you will decipher the hieroglyphics written by the sand,
the wind and sun.
You will be wide-eyed with admiration
contemplating your languishing breasts
which have poured life over the earth.
You will go to school
but you will return to your house,
your kitchen,
to paint the womb of the mat with achiote2,
to note the tongue of soot that licks your white dress,
to inflate the fiery sphere with your lungs,
to judge the delicate fingers of smoke with your eyes,
to read the sizzle on the other side of the comal3,
to read the crackle of the fire4.
You will return to your kitchen
because a banquet awaits you.


Because the oven keeps a mirror in its innards.
A mirror in which the imprint of your soul is found.
A mirror that invokes you with the voice of its brilliance.


Footnotes:


1. The author alludes to a traditional Maya song. The ants were made happy by the birth of a boy, because when he becomes an adult he will make a gift of the corn from his own provisions. When a girl grows up, on the contrary, they will scare her away from the kitchen by throwing boiling water at her.


2. Annato


3. A flat surface for cooking


4. The belief that the fire in a kitchen can transmit messages about visits or occurrences in the future.


Originally published in Como el sol, México, INI/Fundación Rockefeller, 1998 (Letras Mayas Contemporáneas, Tercera Serie, 1.