“Epu Marri Kechu” by Jaime Huenún Villa, translated from the Spanish and Mapuche / Huilliche (Chile) by Cynthia Steele

Study of Pancho III by Lex Lucius

We saw the future
in the shadow of Perito
the anthropologist.
We saw the vile distance
of those men from the government.
That so-called Don Francisco
opened our graves
without so much as asking.
From them he stole the jewels,
the heads
where earth’s dream spins,
the clay goblets for blood and moonshine,
the horses’ tack,
galloping through the night of Nag Mapu.
Brother, good brother,
don’t leave for the wicked cordilleras,
fall asleep here beside me, mi querido,
fall sleep on the pastoral
hides of love.
This cemetery was razed,
dear Father.
The soldiers harvested our bones
like white winter potatoes.
Their saddlebags are now crammed
with little hands, little arms,
with yellow, broken skeletons
without their names
nor the peace of an ülkantun.
Death is the one travelling tirelessly
to La Plata, to Buenos Aires,
to Neuquén.
Oh, mother weeping beneath the waterfall!
oh, chachita, drunk on gin,
you converse with the coots
that run across the Río Limay.

Perito: Francisco Pascasio Moreno, an Argentine who founded the Archaeological and Anthropological Museum of La Plata, which exhibited more than 15,000 human remains.
Metawe: Mapuche clay vase.
Muday: alcoholic beverage made from wheat or corn.
Nag Mapu: the term with which the Mapuches refer to the land we inhabit.
Ülkantun: Traditional Mapuche chant.
Chachita: affectionate term for an older person.

Epu Marri Kechu

Vimos el futuro en la sombra del Perito,
vimos en sus ojos
la distancia envilecida
de los hombres de gobierno.
Abrió sin más las tumbas
el llamado Don Francisco.
Sacó de allí las joyas,
las cabezas
donde gira el sueño de la tierra,
los metawes de la sangre y el muday,
los aperos de caballos
galopando en la noche del Nag Mapu.
Hermano, buen hermano,
no te vayas a las malas cordilleras,
adormécete conmigo, mi querido,
duerme ya en los cueros
pastorales del amor.
Arrasado quedó este cementerio,
Los soldados cosecharon nuestros huesos
como blancas papas invernizas.
Sus morrales van ahora atestados
de manitas, de bracitos,
de amarillos y quebrados esqueletos
sin sus nombres
ni la paz de un ülkantun.
Es la muerte la que viaja sin descanso
a La Plata, a Buenos Aires,
a Neuquén.
¡Ay, mamita que llorás  en la cascada!
¡Ay, chachita que borracho de ginebra
conversás con gallaretas
corredoras del Limay!


Jaime Huenún Villa is an award-winning Mapuche-Huilliche poet whose latest collection of poetry, Crónicas de la Nueva Esperanza / Chronicles of New Hope, is forthcoming from Lom Ediciones. He has received numerous awards, including the Pablo Neruda Prize (2003), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005), and the Chilean National Council on Arts and Culture’s Best Work of Literature 2013. He has also edited several anthologies of Mapuche and other Latin American Indigenous poetry. He works in the Ministry of the Cultures, Arts and Patrimony of Chile.

Photo: Carolyn Cullen

Cynthia Steele is professor emerita of comparative literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her translations include Inés Arredondo, Underground Rivers and Other Stories (1996); José Emilio Pacheco, City of Memory and Other Poems (2001); and María Gudín, Open Sea (2018). They have also appeared in Chicago Review, Gulf Coast, Washington Square Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southern Review, and Agni, among others.

Lex Lucius lives in the Roaring Fork Valley, tucked into the Rocky Mountains and passes by a field of polo ponies weekly, which have become his favorite muse to paint. Their small, muscled bodies and such strength and determination in their movements, yet incredibly calm animals. Even his paintings reflect sureness of movement and a stillness that speaks of this confidence. Lucius seeks to invoke the feelings he gets from these animals, but also tries to bring the stories and dreams we all carry within us when we think of horses and what horses mean to us. He is focusing on art he wants to see; art that makes him feel. His hope is these paintings bring feelings of comfort and connection to the viewer.