100 Refutations: Day 81

From the riddles of Chilam Balam [Excerpt from the First Enigma]

—Bring the sun, my children. And let it stretch out on my plate. For wedged within him is the spear of heaven, stuck right into the middle of his heart. Upon the sun sits the Great Tiger, drinking his blood.

—In figurative language. The sun: the sacred fried egg. There, the spear and the crux of heaven, driven into its heart: what we say is, “the blessing.” There, then, the green tiger, crouching atop it, drinking blood: the chile verde, which the tiger has. This is figurative language.


Unknown Mayan poet

According to Abraham Arias-Larreta in Literaturas Aborigenes de America (1976), “‘Chilam’ was the title given to prophets of the priestly caste of the Mayas. ‘Balam,’ which literally means ‘jaguar,’ was the name of the famous, and last, prophet before the European conquest. He was, precisely, the one to have foretold of the arrival of the invaders who would establish a new religion. When the sacred books of the Mayas from Yucatán were partially reproduced using the Maya language and the European alphabet, he was given the name of the great [biblical] prophet, Balam. Since then these [sacred books] have been known as ‘The Books of Chilam Balam.’”

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.