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from the January 2011 issue


When the euphoria had just barely set in
the damned look of suspicion fell upon us.

The bottoms of our boots up on the land
we ease on our elbows
we lean our faces back;
our hoarse heart snores
when we have dreams we cant have,
innocents looking
to discover mediocre waters.

We watch ourselves
turning our heads;
we get ourselves drunk-sick
till heaven is lost.

Ages ago
the dimension of our life
went length-wise,
a lonely horizontal of flower and fruits.
The rivers of air
only served our illusions.

yesterday was no more,
moving ourselves with the sweat of self
we are finding the width,
the jump,
like animals,

we were profound.
We start to go down
with portaviandas from the clouds,
bringing with us the song, the insane;
always faster,
not needing to greet good days
bad nights.

We thank our bodies
looking like bears
that dance ceaselessly to paradise.
wanting to restructure our dreams.
crazy to forget.

Living like this
some abandon human warmth
and, shivering every three days,
speak to judge the majority.

Without doubt
we believe ourselves to be part of the hills
we look for miracles against dangers
we collect suspicions,
we invent fears
and the fallen
deep within, in us,
without strength to lift
ourselves up.

In rough land,
wandering around the mountain
going on foot,
where human strengths tire,
we meet with Oyacachi,
temple of the head of the bear.

at the summit
without time to clarify the future
just there
we glimpse Bella,
lowered between heaven
and this world.

The First Miracle:
she was our eyes
and our ears.

We couldnt
speak, tell, talk
about those sweeter sins:
the ones we didnt even think
about committing.

We doubt:
If we consult the hills
would it be blasphemy?

The uncertainty spread:
who will watch over those without eyes?

The bears will abandon us,
wont they be our

Between quick clouds
like a mirage,
the bears ascended baring their claws,
Bella descended
olive in color
with wrapped feet
shaking her claws.

With the first sermon
Bella became white.
And the Virgin returned
when the town got dark
life stopped.
The sembrios, the songs and the dances,
they left exiled.
The whispers returned
collectively grieved,
guilty about the future.
They began the candle-looks,
hugs ran out to nothing,
the quiet and the stammering,
the silence and the impossible loves.

The fathers kept only their plows
the mothers their pots, barely,
the children the enigma
of their six fingers.

The pilgrims looked
for another place without bears
and sadness.
The church claimed space
for their offerings and alms.

she became a traveler.

To Quinche,
forest of the sun
where the men
sculpt her face
in the heart of the trees,
mounted on an orb of fire,
the Virgin returned.

She passed the invalids
the traveling salesmen
the blind

the unemployed
the prostitutes
the poor and poorer
she passed the voice.

In the town plaza
there appeared men of mud,
or maybe they were made of earth and tears,
their eyes covered,
and with rope around the neck.

The Second Miracle:
the Virgin shouts:
get rid of the bandages
get out of the ropes
dont be afraid of the fallen,
they walk without watching their steps.

Like this
how many
sadnesses of the time
with the bear-Bella-Virgin
and, how many,
fifty years later,
will live
in line for the abyss,
the overflow
of their true hearts
fearing the fallen
without knowing
the ones reaching to live
are only dying.

Translation of “Oyacachi.” Copyright Ulises Estrella. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by David Backer. All rights reserved.

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