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from the September 2017 issue

“Bird Spirit” and “Handful of Earth”

The poetry of Fredy Chicangana straddles two languages: Spanish and Quechua. Here, we present his poetry in translation from the Spanish alongside the same poem in Quechua.


These songs to Mother Earth in a major key
are whispers that come from distant forests,
those furtive words that yearn to be a droplet in the human heart.
They're gentle tones, as if they were telling us:
"We come in silence along the moist paths of life,
the grass of hope greets us between night and its shadows,
our footsteps embrace the earth and the hail sings
amid the tree leaves.
We are the fire of stars come unstuck from the celestial sphere
announcing the new era,
here we are weaving the circle of the yellow butterfly,
sowing water in desert places,
in short, we are bird spirit
in wells of reverie."



Samay pisccok
Takicay pachamamak jatun rimaypi
chihuihuincay ima hamuy sachamanta
shimicay ttillayay ima maskay suttuycaypi sonccoruna
ahihuihuincay ñutu rimaina:
«Jaku nimapi ñanpura jukuna causaypa
quihuacuna suyanak ñoqa rimay tutapurakuna llanturi
ñukanchiyupi ucllanacay pachata takiruntupay
Ñukanchi ninapay coyllurmanta ima urmay ankas ananpachak
hullilla kcayapacha
caypi muyupi pillpintumantak quellu
tarpuyaku puruncunapi
tukurita nunacay pisccomanta
pponccopi mushcoypa».



They gave me a handful of earth for me to live in.
"Take this, earthworm," they told me,
"there you'll plow, there you'll raise your children,
there you'll chew your blessed maize."
Then I took that handful of earth,
I surrounded it with stones so that the water
wouldn't wash it away from me,
I kept it in the bowl of my hand, I warmed it,
I caressed it and began to work it . . .
Every day I sang to that handful of earth;
then the ant came, the cricket, the bird of night,
the serpent of the outback,
and they wanted to help themselves to that handful of earth.
I removed the fence and gave to each their part.
I remained once more alone
with the bowl of my empty hand;
I then closed my hand, made a fist, and decided to fight
for that which others take from us.



Ñukapi chaskichiy hapttayshuk pachamanta chaypipak causay
Caycca pachak´uikamanta ñukapiñiy:
Chaypi llank´ay, chaypi camay cjullu-huahua,
chaypi cjamuy qan muchhascca sara
Chaypacha pallacuy hapttay chay pachamanta
quinchaykuna rumimanta mana yakuimapak
huaccaychay ppuyñu maki ñukamanta, kcoñichiykuna
huaylluyñukamanta callarinari llank’ayman…
Punchau-punchau takipayman chayta hapttay pachamanta
chaypacha hamuy añankukuna, chillikpay, pisccotutapay
amarucuna ichupampak
munaypay yanapana hapttay chay pachamanta.
Quechuk quinchapay hucnin-cace ñoqaccoy kquitichayaqqe
Ñoka quepapuy yapamanta runalla
ppuyñu makihuan chusak
ñoka huiskcay makikuna, ruraypuyñukuna sinchicay maccanacuy
ima chay huc ñukanchi qquechuk.


© Fredy Chicangana. By arrangement with the authors. Translation © 2017 by Lawrence Schimel. All rights reserved.

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