Tum Ab’aj

By HUMBERTO AK’ABAL

Translated by LOREN GOODMAN

In my town there’s a big rock
called Tum Ab’aj.

The sun and the moon take care of it.

It’s not a mute rock,
it’s a drum of stone.

It’s covered with a fluff
we refer to as toad shit.
A road, a river
and the rock in the middle.

Those who don’t know about it
Pass without noticing

Not the old ones;
they stop a while
burn incense for him, copal,
candles & honey.

When it rains, the stone sleeps;
tum, tum, tum, tum.

 

[Purchase Issue 12 here.]

Humberto Ak’abal, a Guatemalan poet of K’iché Maya ethnicity, concieves and writes his poems in the K’iché language and translates them himself into Spanish. Well known throughout Europe and South America, he is a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Loren Goodman is the author of Famous Americans, selected by W. S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets; Suppository Writing; and New Products.

Tum Ab’aj

Related Posts

Image of the book cover of The Morning Line, featuring a man wearing a hat.

September 2021 Poetry Feature: David Lehman’s The Morning Line

DAVID LEHMAN
You can pick horses on the basis of their names / and gloat when Justify wins racing’s Triple Crown / or when, in 1975, crowd favorite Ruffian, “queen / of the century,” goes undefeated until she breaks down / in a match race with Derby winner Foolish Pleasure.

Bogota

Translation: Poems by María Paz Guerrero

MARÍA PAZ GUERRERO
Time fills with holes / and puts the scarce body / into one of them // It covers its skeleton of wind / so the current / doesn’t rub against its prickly outside // The air would split into smithereens / if it were touched by the spines // It doesn’t seek to become cuts on the cheek