Keremetik: Three Poems

By Xun Betan, Translated by Kiran Bhat


I was born under the full moon of our sacred mother
her rays flashed upon my navel, the core of my body
yet I was born 
in an epoch when the women were looking for their freedom

I was born when my grandmother was singing
the stars were reflections of the horizon
yet I was born 
when the men were starting to dance instead of stand.
I was born when the sacred mountains were alive
and the sacred water was springing in their stomachs
yet I was born 
when the birds were still able to fly.

I was born when praying was a way to greet the day,
and the children frolicked their life away,
yet I was born
when the men, women, and elders laughed more than fretted.

I was born when the sacred sun froze over
and its shadows were pregnant with my spirit.
When I was born, 
we decided not only to belong to our mother and father,
we chose to be children of the Sacred Mother Moon. 


Li ayan bak’in nojem te jch’ul me’tik ue  
te xojobale k’ot ta jmixik’, ta jbek’tal  
li ayan bak’in antsatike sa’ik xa skolelik o. 
Li ayan bak’in jvo’ jmuk’ta me’il k’ejin  
te ch’ul k’analetike xojobtesik osilaltik 
li ayan bak’in viniketike lek x’ak’otajik.  

Li ayan bak’in kuxul to te ch’ul vitsetike  
ta xch’ute ch’ul jo’ xlok’ yu’un  
li ayan bak’in sna’ikto vilel te mutetike.  

Li ayan bak’in oyto sk’oponel te kuxlejale  
te ch’in k’oxetike sna’ik to ak’ot ta osil k’ak’al  
li ayan bak’in sna’ik to stse’enik te ants viniketike. 

Li ayan bak’in sikuben te ch’ul k’ak’ale  
te yaxinale la snojes ta yip jch’ulel.  
Bak’in li ayane la jna’ te yolukutik jme’tik ch’ul ue.


The footprints of the sacred wind
walk alongside me and sheathe my heart,
from the smallest of trails to the broadest of highways. 
Those who guide you are the mountains,
like the most cherished of women who raised you,
their slopes are full of life, gifting you the purest of water.

Old paths, old dreams, 
missionaries riding mules and horses;
these journeys stained our paths with the disgraced blood of my people,
transforming the very life of the earth itself,
sweating blood, covered in crosses. 

You conjured up the sacred path, you puffed anew the sacred wind,
in your many past lives you created new pathways to the truth.
Men and women, dancing and singing, singing and dancing,
with all of these blessings and all of these trifles you filled up your soul
and imbibed from life’s great secrets, our sacred mother mountain.

—–May the ancient pathways guide me backwards and forwards at once…


Ta yav yok ch’ul ik’  
xanavan smuk’ul yaxinal ko’on,  
poko be xa snit ta xambal.  
Jbeiltesvanej ch’ul vitsetik,  
p’ijil antsatik xa xcha’bi,  
nojemik ta kuxlejal, ch’ul jo’ jmotontik.
Poko beetik, poko vayuchiletik,  
mula xchi’uk ka’, jxambil xa kajlebin.  
Chamel xchi’uk chopolal la sta lekil jnaklejetik,  
xkuxlejal ch’ul balumil xa jel ta milel bail  
ch’ich’ achik’, akrus la kuch.  

Ch’ul ik’etik la vayuchin, la juch’ta ch’ul osil,  
ta xambal la meltsan be yu’un vo’onej kuxlejal.  
Ants xchi’uk viniketik, jun k’eoj la yak’otajinik,  
lekilal xchi’uk sa’el kolel la snojes avo’on  
snak’obil kuxlejal, jme’tik ch’ul vits.

Ta poko ch’ul beetik beiltesunikun el… 


Sing, mockingbird,
lull my soul to sleep,
heal my wounds,
my sadness, my anguish.

Fly forward, butterfly,
dance into my dreams,
open up my soul
so that I can feel hope more clearly.

Howls of the jungle
the earth jaguar,
feed my body
so that I’m not lost in the world’s lies.

Mother Ceiba, soothe my heart 
with your hands, 
illuminate my path
so that I can fight against life’s cruelties.

Sing, my women, sing, my men,
let your bodies grow.
Sow the sacred earth with
the seeds of freedom
for our future harvest

…of this bundle of songs.


K’eojinan yaxal mut
Vayubteso jch’ulel
takijeso jya
vokolil xchi’uk chamel.

Vilan pepen
Ak’otajan ta jvayuch
jamo jtakupal
ta sts’unel lekil kuxlejal.

Sk’eoj muk’ta ja’mal
sbolomal ch’ul balumil
nojeso jvinkilel
ak’o mu xiyal ta lot.

Ta ak’ob me’il Yaxte’
jaxo ko’ontone.
Nojeso jxambal
ta spojel ik’al chopolal.

K’eojinan ants, k’eojinan vinik
ak’o nichimajuk avinkilel.
Ts’uno ta ch’ul balumil
sbek’ kolel yu’un xa k’aj

… Jyomuk k’eojetik

Xun Betan is a writer, translator and poet from Venustiano Carranza, Chiapas. He is the project coordinator of the literary collective Snichimal Vayuchil and has published various poetic experiments with them in bats’i k’op and San Jk’optik. He also works for the collective Espejo Somos and the magazine Conmoción.
Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American author, traveler, and polyglot. He is known as the author of we of the forsaken world…,  but has published books in five different languages and has had his writing published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Brooklyn Rail, 3:AM Magazine, The Caravan, The Bengaluru Review, SOFTBLOW, and many other places.  He has been to 150 countries, lived in 25 other places on the planet, and dabbles in twelve languages, but is currently based in Mumbai. You can follow him on Twitter at WeltgeistKiran.

Image Credit: Edith Lüthi