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In honor of #LiteracyDay check out Mikeas Sánchez’s work translated into English by David Shook: “Jesus Never Understood My Grandmother’s Prayers”.  From Chapultenango, Chiapas Sanchez writes in her native Zoque.   In the poem, none of the grandmother’s prayers to Jesus work. It’s not until she curses in her native Zoque—jukis’tyt and patsoke—that anything happens.  To hear the poem read in English and read another of Sánchez’s poems translated by David Shook: Nereyda Dreamed in New York head to: World Literature Today.  

My grandmother never learned Spanish

was afraid of forgetting her gods

was afraid of waking up in the morning

without the prodigals of her offspring in her memory.

My grandmother believed that you could only

talk to the wind in Zoque

but she kneeled before the saints

and prayed with more fervor than anyone.

Jesus never heard her

my grandmother’s tongue

smelled like rose apples

and her eyes lit up when she sang

with the brightness of a star.

Saint Michael Archangel never heard her

my grandmother’s prayers were sometimes blasphemies

jukis’tyt she said and the pain stopped

patsoke she yelled and time paused beneath her bed.

In that same bed she birthed her seven sons.

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Jesucristo’is Ja’ Ñäjktyäj’ya Äj’ Tzumama’is Kyionuksku’y

Äj’ tzumama’is ja’ myuspäkä’ kastiya’ore
natzu’ jyambä’ä ngyomis’kyionukskutyam
natzu’ xaä’ tumä nabdzu’
jyambäukam yanuku’is musokiu’tyam
Äj’ tzumama’is wyanjambana’ jujche’ ore’omorire’na
Muspabä tä’ tzamä’sawa’jin
tese’ kujtnebya’na eyabä’ ngomis wyinan’omoram
tese’na konukspa chokoyjin ni’ijse
Jesucristo’is ja’ myajna kyonujksku’y
te’ yore äj’ dzumamas’ñye
ñä’ ijtu’na pomarrosas yoma’ram
tese’ sunkbana’ tumä’ matza
wyrün’omoram wadbasenaka’
San Miguel Arkangel’is ja’ myajna’ kyänuksku’y
äj’tzumama’is kyänuksku’y wenen’omo yaxonguy’tyam’dena’
jukis’tyt numbana’ tese’ poyajpana te’ toya’ram
patsoke wejpana’ tese’ te’ Sungä mita’na yängu’kyämä
Te’ yängu’kyämärike pänayaju’ kuyay’yune’ram