to my andean season

Cajon and Guitar

Cuzco Eats is pleased to feature a poem by the poet Kildem Soto who has roots in his native Peru as well as in the United States where he mostly resides.  Soto’s work is passionate and rich.  In this poem he returns to his homeland on the eastern slopes of Peru’s Andes.  He uses a language similar to many bilingual poets that draws on the resources of both Spanish and English to make his poem work.  As a result, we have supplied a glossary below the English poem since Soto’s Spanish version does not rely on English.  Though writing about Peru, he creates the sensitivity of an American who lives, eats, and breathes in Spanish and English when in the US, in a language that the writer Ilan Stavans has described as a new tongue.

to my andean season

there’s a path from the sea to the mountains

in a land that ripens to jungle

where dance exerts in maneuvers, flirting and hovering

its appetite is wrapped in corn husks, warm, fermented to the rise of the jora


in a bowl awaits my incan-catholic quechua-castillian afro-rhythm chifa-flavored people, a hot caldo to a radiant sun

streets to dirt roads of the campo, where great feasts are cooked while buried, the pachamanca is dark in its spices

my cousins and I watched the elders mysteriously unearth the cooked meal

as if the mist had come up through the ground dragging its candor

when the band begins to huayno, stomping feet and bopping braids

put on their masks, sounding their matracas

because all along the procession of our black christ

a criolle cajon’s redeeming low hymns praise the colonial streets, enveloping the land in adobe homes as far as where the shamans live, up on their risen


when you gallop on the road of cinnamon quills

with outfits of beige and white

the crowd will applaud and the children will run

some get scared and some run along

if you reach its height, they are castles surrounding each other

their veil is an unmovable parade that transcends any flag or nation

it is that they are bound

that they are wealth

the columns that silhouette our sun


Cajon:  A wooden box used as a percussion instrument in creole Peruvian music.

Campo:  Rural area.

Caldo: broth or thin soup

Chifa :  Peruvian Chinese food.

Huayno :  Indigenous Peruvian music in a rocking 2/4 beat.

Jora :  Quechua for corn

Matracas:  A ratchet used as a percussion instrument.

Pachamanca:  A food baked in stone lined pits common in the Peruvian Andes.


Dancers, Corpus Christi
Dancers, Corpus Christi

estaciones andinas

por Kildem Soto

hay un camino que guía desde el mar al monte

hacia una tierra que al hacerse madura se vuelve selvática

donde el baile es una hazaña coloreada de un coqueteo volador

su comida esta envuelta en la cáscara del choclo, tibia, y en la chicha fermentada crecida en jora

en el tazón esta mi gente incaitolica-quechuacastilia-afrodansante sabor a chifa, un caldo caliente y un sol radiante

de las calles hacia el campo, donde la comida se prepara enterrada, la pachamanca sale oscura con su aderezo

mis primos y yo observábamos el misterioso desenterrar de la comida como si la tiniebla hubiera surgido del suelo, arrastrando su candor

cuando la banda toca huayno, el zapateo y las trenzas se ponen sus mascaras, sonando las matracas

porque acompañando la procesión de nuestro cristo negro, esta el cajón criollo reivindicándonos con himnos dando alabanzas a las calles coloniales,

desenvolviéndose sobre la tierra, en las casas de adobe, llegando hasta la vivienda del chamán, arriba en su choza

cuando te encuentres al galope sobre los clavos de canela

vestido de blanco y beige

la multitud aplaudirá, los niños correrán, algunos se asustan y otros corren siguiendo

si alcanzas su altura, son castillos rodeándose

su velo es un desfile inmóvil que transciende toda bandera o nación

es porque están unidas

que ellas son de gran valor

las columnas que siluetean nuestro sol

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