from Wings and Roots

Sabino Esteban

Ixcán Jungle

There I left my navel
up on the

There I learned how to walk
with my naked feet
on the muddy fields of the CPRs.

There, among the palm trees
I used to pull out thorns
from the soles of my feet.

There I learned to be chased
and to erase my footprints
as means of survival.

That’s why I wasn’t there to
leave my prints on the road,
but for the roads
to leave marks on my feet.

Names of Villages

Seat of height.

Where the land is yellow.

Where the land is shaped like a fork.

Tree with navel.

Lion standing up high.

Where the pacayas are plenty.

Where the waters meet.

Among the Trees

Emergency Plan
during the armed conflict,
starving kids out on the CPRs
used to scream:
a rag
went inside their mouths
to close their yelling
by the horses.
Instead of tortilla
they swallowed their voice.
Even today, hunger echoes
inside the scream of many.

My Calabash

I filled my calabash
with puddled sky
from faraway gorges.

I brought it to you
because you are flower of hillside
and you know that the sky
likes to puddle
in the gorges.

My calabash has the shape
of my heart
in it you can drink
my mountain love.


My Mother

My mother
has her age embroidered
on the palms of her hands.

And they’re well pressed
on every tortilla she claps.

To eat her tortillas
is to learn the taste of her wrinkles.

translated from the Q’anjob’al and Spanish by José García Escobar

Editor’s Note: The translator worked primarily from the Spanish and consulted with the poet, as described in the translator’s note.