100 Refutations: Day 48

A Blessing [From a 1902 text]

Before you,
I offer my copal
—it is for you.
Offer it to the father
—it is for you,
raise it up to the father.

I shall fulfill, once more, my offering of pozol for you
—it is for you,
offer it to the father.
Before you I lay my gift, once more,
for your joy.
I offer it so that my gift does not become spoiled, so it remains whole,
remains worthy
—that is at the head—of my gift,
for you.

May my gift not break!
May my gift not crack!

Watch me laying down my gift, Father!
So that I do not sink into fever fires!
I have placed you in the new fire pit,
watch me, once more, lay down a gift
for your joy,
watch me lay down a gift
for my children’s souls.
That they may never be penned in,
that they may never be held captive
by illness,
by cold,
by fever.
Come in then,
walk toward my children,
and heal them.


Unknown Mayan poet

The translation featured here uses the same version of the poem used by Alfred M. Tozzer (1877-1954), and draws upon his notes and annotations. A highly respected and influential anthropologist, archaeologist, linguist, and educator who specialized in Mesoamerican studies, Tozzer served as the president of the American Anthropological Society and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1974, Harvard renamed its Peabody Museum Library the Tozzer Library.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.

English translation copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.