Tijai1 is the master of the mountains and the most remote places.
He is a man of white skin, well-built and strong.
Tall and free like the mountains of Kanus2.
He has an ancestral beauty that hazes my mind
and mesmerizes me, taking possession of my convalescent soul.
We are a unified body. He does not have small feet.
I humanize him, and I become eternal.
Tijai never wears shirts or pants
just the Itip3 that he takes off in seconds
Every day, I observe him from the the universe’s eyes
I cannot touch him or feel him, but I remember his lips,
his skin, his hands caressing my flesh full of agony.
I know he remembers me lying on his bed of apai4 petals.
If you know who Nunkui5 is
If you always remember Nunkui in your walking
Think, Nunkui is a woman
Tsunki6 was also a woman, and she emerged from the deep rivers in love with man
The Star was a woman and she descended from the heavens because she desired the shuar7
Atsut8 is also woman like Ipak9 and Suwa10
The rat, since it was female, taught the woman to give birth.
Nunkui is Mother Earth, if you are telling this truth in the city
Remember, Nunkui is a woman
Thus, make Nunkui our leader
Make her speech be loud because her words are potent
Because she possesses powerful knowledge.
You respect mother Nunkui, you say
But you knock your wife down and kick her
The woman is powerless, you say
But you also repeat that you respect her.
“The woman cannot study because she is pregnant,”
you say so often
A woman gave you life
Although a woman breastfeed you
chewed roasted bananas and nourished you when you were a child
Now you hate her
You leave her
You strike her.
You ask me impolite gringa
When will I return to my village?
You advise me wise gringa
“You should not live your whole life in transition,
You must seek a permanent place, find your people.”
I answer you, curious gringa, that I have “no” idea about my transition.
I do not belong here or any other place.
I was born Awajun and I grew up Wampis.
My adolescence is a synonym of the Andes.
Lima, a savage city in its way,
is now my home.
I tell you that, perhaps,
I did not know who I was.
In your words, I see my future
In your ethnography, I see my past
You pretend to look into me.
You pretend you know me without drinking ayahuasca.
You pretend to discover my soul and show me what I cannot see,
teaching me to appreciate what humiliates us
Ask yourself, funny gringa,
What do I think about you?
I see you speaking Spanish,
and any of the 48 Peruvian languages,
when you say you speak pure Wampis.
I see when the purity slip from your veins,
when your heart and flesh scream out pureness like a mixture of everything in “One”
Yes, the absolute bliss of calling yourself pure must be the feeling of “One”
Like me in my many cultures
And the traveled paths of life
Through the various lands of experience
As cosmic as brief life hurtling toward the infinite.
Poems from the book Sanchiu (Pakarina Editores, 2021)
Translated by Christian Elguera
The translator wishes to express his gratitude to Eloy Cruz for his comments and feedback.
1 Wampis deity that inhabits the mountains.
2 Name of the Santiago River District in the Awajun region.
3 Traditional clothing of Awajun or Wampis men.
4 A flower of beautiful scent and delicious flavor in the Amazonian area.
5 Wampis goddess.
6 Divinity of the waters.
7 Term referring to the human being.
8 Woman from the ethereal world.
10 A feminine Wampis name.