The Sky (Humberto Ak’Abal)

February 17, 2009

If you climb up an old cypress
and hang on the highest branch,
you will see that the sky
is not far from the earth.

In Momostenango
you can touch it.

(translated by John Oliver Simon)

During our two years in Guatemala I struggled to find any contemporary Guatemalan poets, in or out of translation. But Kristin recently found, and showed me, an extraordinary poem by Humberto Ak’Abal, a Mayan poet born in Momostenango, Guatemala. And I was happy to find two of his poems translated in the magazine Circumference which I picked up this past weekend in Chicago. Anyway, I love this poem for its spare, hypnotic simplicity. Its language is as close to the earth as Momostenango is to the sky.

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