[I traveled the path from the south]


I traveled the path from the south
my feet blistered with memories
so tired from dragging
all my people’s dreams


Are they pushing at my back?
Or am I chasing my own delusion?


Who am I in this madness
in the middle of a sea
                  turned to sand?

[Por el camino del sur he venido]


In the Spanish


Por el camino del sur he venido
mis pies explotan sus recuerdos ampulosos
cansados están de llevar a rastras
las esperanzas de los míos


¿Son ellos los que me empujan las espaldas
o es mi propia quimera la que persigo?


¿Quién soy en esta delirante hora
en medio de un mar
                que se volvió arena?

[Neza guete’ bendandaya’]


In the Isthmus Zapotec


Neza guete’ bendandaya’
cayache bitii lu ñee’
ma bidxagaca’ caxubiyú ca’
ni cabeza binni lidxe’


Laacabe nga cucaanacabe deche la?
Pala si xpacaanda sia’ nga zinanda ya?


Tu naa ma cayaca íque’
galaa bato’ ti nisado’
                málasi guca yuxi



Irma Pineda (Binnizá/Isthmus Zapotec) has published nine books of bilingual (Spanish-Isthmus Zapotec) poetry. Naxiña’ Rului’ladxe’ – Rojo Deseo (Red Desire, by Pluralia) won Mexico’s Caballo Verde 2018 best poetry book prize. The poems published here are from her 2007 collection, Xilase qui rié di’ sicasi rié nisa guiigu’ / La Nostalgia no se marcha como el agua de los ríos (Nostalgia Doesn’t Flow Away Like Riverwater). She works for Mexico’s National Teachers’ University as well as the Mexican Federal Congress. She serves as a vice president of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and lives in Mexico City and Juchitán, Oaxaca.

Wendy Call translated In the Belly of Night and Other Poems by Irma Pineda (Pluralia, 2020); wrote No Word for Welcome (Nebraska, 2011), winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction; and coedited Telling True Stories (Penguin, 2007). She was a 2018-2019 Fulbright scholar in Colombia, teaches creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University, and makes her home in Seattle. These translations were supported by a 2015 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.