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“Our essence changes, fades away”

Enriqueta Lunez, born in Chiapas in Mexico in 1981, is a poet and writer who belongs to the new generation of Tsotsil writers in the country writing in Tsotsil instead of Spanish. Her poems revolve around her upbringing in the city of San Juan Chamula; they deal with her people’s traditions, mysticism, spirituality and the absence of a language. In her poem “Essence” she writes: “hear how the Tsotsil tangles in my mouth / hear how it refuses yours”. We here present three of her poems written in Tsotsil, poems that have been translated into English and Swedish.

Credits Text: Enriqueta Lunez Translation from English: William Gregory October 18 2019


Man, what became of reason?
Boy, where is your soul?
Woman, when did you forget tradition?
Girl, what are your dreams?
Our essence changes, fades away
hear how the Tsotsil tangles in my mouth
hear how it refuses yours.
Look at our clothes
our essence changes, transmutes.
Look how our greed makes sibling kill sibling
look how the springs run less clear
and the mountains lose their green.
Our essence changes, we lose something.
The wisdom of the ancients stays in the memory
and in my memory I keep my grandfather’s words, he said:
‘Granddaughter, I am pleased that your soul learns from books; your eyes
are open now; only, always cultivate the intelligence of your hands.’jun k’ak’al la jyalbun:
Something changes, our seed spreads.
There, in the North, at the border
just now, tsotsil sounds in the furrows.
A man evokes this land
a woman speaks in her mother tongue.

A Spell to Mock the Frontier

when my footprints mark the desert sand
there, at home
open doors and windows
light white candles
and pray, pray for this son.
When my footprints mark the desert sand
close no doors or windows
let the wind blow in

but not blow out the light of hope.
When my footsteps mark the desert sand
do not cross the street, do not wash my clothes
stay home to shelter my soul
and pray, pray the birds do not devour these dreams.


A house
a tree
a dog,
the rails
the train
holy miracle-workers
tomorrow we will leave
from north to south
from south to north
the to and fro of dreams.

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