The Valley of Mezquital (English translation)

The day breaks over the ejidos

(community owned land)

I got lost in the heart of Mexico

Traveler a little pulque ?

(fermented drink made from agave)

Come drink the dehe (water) that this old man is handing us

Let me splash it on your face

Let me throw all the water from this can on you

Nothing dries faster than the body when the soul is burned

Let’s forget for a while the distances between us and history

Let’s play in the yard of this blue hacienda

In the valley of Mezquital

A peasant woman cultivates the nopal (prickly pear)

She tells us the story of a language

That every day dies like the summer flower,

In a siphon of heat

Far from the ceramic stalls,

At the tollgate of the Mexico-Quereto highway

Traveler, I invite you to the feast of the patron saints of the village

Where young people kiss at night

In Spanish mixed with English

Now close your eyes

Blood flows from this story

I don’t want you to get hurt,

I’ll make you an armor of my poetry

Follow me to the silver mine in Zacatecas

Our paths may part here

Take my hand, let’s take the road less traveled

I don’t want you to go astray –

The alabanzas (traditional prayers) die on our lips

Today rocks the memories of yesterday

The curtains of the haciendas still tremble

Like dust on the lips of women

It is the sand of a contested history

Traveler, I can’t lie to you

This country has suffered more than it should

I burn myself praying to the Holy Cross

The War of Independence

Cost the lives of all the warlords

The Revolution is on the march

Huerta fell in 1914 – since then,

The Church and the State are fighting over the promises of the dawn

A man played the concha (a kind of guitar with five strings) all night long

Traveler, come forward to the altar

Let us offer flowers, a candle or money

To this church that is falling into dust

Crushed in the frantic race of history

Let us try the impossible,

Let us revive the memory of a forgotten language

Spanish has muffled the cries of newborns

But the noise of the otomi breaks the silence

In the courtyard of this church

Má gó (I’m leaving)

At dawn my sighs still ring out,

I finish this paper plane

It will take me back to my country

Young girls have started to dance

Hot coffee is being distributed

Traveler, are you tired?

Come and rest in the shade of my eyelashes

The air smells like freshly cut grass

The sky is adorned with bright colors

The carmine of the sunset shades our silhouettes

I finish my lemon Perrier

Under the shelter of this trembling tree

Traveler this language is beautiful

In Santa Ana Hueytlalpan (« on the great land », in Nahuatl)

The coolness of our secret is hidden

In the depths of the wind

The guitar cradles our rest

The light is our fiery asylum

Is it a horse that rears up?

The sun that plays a trick on us?

Or the love that dazzles our souls?

I got lost in the heart of Mexico

The noise of the otomi breaks the silence

Má gó (I am leaving)

Traveler, come closer to the altar

Let’s forget for a while the distances between us and history


Translator’s note: the Otomi language is an Amerindian language spoken in eight Mexican states, it is not considered prestigious and is in decline compared to its neighbors Spanish and Nahuatl.

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