“Landays for the children of Ayotzinapa” by Luisa Isabella Villa Meriño, translated from the Spanish (Colombia) by Kim Jensen

Ganglia collaged onto landscape of bodies, faces and records
Street Ganglia, C. R. Resetarits

“Grandmother earth, I brought you this; keep it safe for me.”
(Chatinos de Yaitepec, Oaxaca)  

Because I did not find your body
I will lay my flowers where I planted your navel. 
 I offer you our placenta
“o grandmother earth.” They have robbed us of our dreams!
They uprooted the tree from the soil.
I can feel the weeping of the lifeless placenta.
My children once went fishing for birds.
Who imprisoned their visions in padlocks and in chains?

The farm is abandoned and alone.
When my child was born, offerings of bread rained down.
I carried him upon my shoulders.
I swear to you: he was neither the bird nor the wind.
Forty-three desperate women search
They’re combing the empty ditches and gutters for shells. 

 Thousands of lamenting women croon
 “Sleep, my love, and dream— to escape the razor-edged claws.”

My body is covered in bruises,
The carnivorous mammals have devoured my son. 

My body will always wear the scar,
my poem will watch over those who have disappeared.

These so-called scarecrows, counterfeit fakes
They have dismembered the songs and the cadence of birds.

Landays a los hijos de Ayotzinapa

“Abuela tierra, te traje esto; guárdamelo con cuidado”
(Chatinos de Yaitepec, Oaxaca) 

Como no encontré tu cuerpo, 
llevaré flores donde sembré tu ombligo. 
 Te ofrezco nuestra placenta 
“abuela tierra” ¡Se han llevado los sueños!   
 Sacaron la raíz del árbol 
 siento llorar la placenta entumecida. 
Mis hijos pescaban pájaros,  
¿Quiénes colocaron candados en sus sueños? 

La granja está desolada. 
Cuando nació, llovieron las ofrendas de pan. 

Lo llevaba en mi espalda,
juro que no fue el pájaro ni el viento.

Son cuarenta y tres mujeres,
Buscan caracolas en las zanjas vacías.

Miles de lloronas arrullan:
“Duerme amor, sueña, escapa de las uñas.”

Tengo el cuerpo magullado,
Los mamíferos se comieron a mi hijo.

Mi cuerpo lleva la cicatriz,
mi poema guarda al desaparecido.

Supuestos espantapájaros,
Deshicieron la cadencia de los pájaros.


Luisa Villa Meriño is a multidisciplinary Afro-Caribbean poet, visual artist, and storyteller whose work explores the collective memory and culture of Afro-descendants of the Caribbean region of Colombia. She was born in El Copey (Cesar) and grew up in Barranquilla where she studied visual art at the Escuela Distrital de Artes. A graduate of the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, she has been invited to present her work in Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, and Italy. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Colombia-Mexico Artistic Residency (FONCA) for her the creative project “The Reunion of the daughters of Coatlicue and the daughters of Yemayá.”  Her first poetry collection God was Better When He was a Tiger was published in 2020 by Baraja Gráfica Editores (Colombia) and Editorial Morgana (Mexico).

Kim Jensen is a writer, poet, and educator, whose books include a novel, The Woman I Left Behind, and two poetry collections, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters. Active in transnational peace and justice movements for decades, Kim’s work has been featured in Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Extraordinary Rendition: Writers Speak Out on Palestine, Gaza Unsilenced, Bomb Magazine, Sukoon, and Mizna, among others. In 2001, she won the Raymond Carver Award for short fiction. She teaches writing at the Community College of Baltimore County, where she founded the Community Book Connection, an interdisciplinary literacy initiative that demonstrates the vital connection between classroom learning and social justice issues in the broader community.

C. R. Resetarits is a writer and collagist. Her collage art has appeared on book covers and on the covers and in the pages of dozens of magazines.

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