Literature

Treacherous Chola, a Poem by Luís Nieto Miranda

La Cholita (Photo: Wayra)

People say the weather is like Cuzco’s women, capricious. It can change from moment to moment in unexpected ways. While on the surface sexist and patriarchal, this common saying also speaks to the sexual and romantic agency of women who can choose their own lovers and show their own desire. The great poet of Cuzco, Luís Nieto Miranda, is a man who celebrates the identity of Cholos, the class of the in between. Here, he writes of the anguish of being a man, ostensibly macho, in a world where women have their own ideas and power.

Treacherous Chola

What is it, or what isn’t it,
your highland love;
yesterday you gave me a kiss
today you won’t shake my hand.

How quickly you’ve forgotten
our heaven of laughter.
They’ve told you I’m hurting
and you do not even care.

Remember when we went
to roll around in the fields?
You bought some apples
and I took my charango.

A breeze of songs grew
inside your sharp eyes.
I tore apart carnations
above your snowy breasts.

On running down your body
my hands were clear experts.
In the hearth of your mouth
my blood began to boil.

A sneaky and Cholo wind
who loved you, suddenly
blew back your skirts
and then . . . left shouting.

Ground doves in love
watched us from every tree.
Our afternoon was spent
in laughter and song.

The Fields of Cuzco (Photo: Wayra)
The Fields of Cuzco (Photo: Wayra)

When the sun ignited
we went back, step by step.
On the alfalfa we left
our trembling kisses.

You, with your messed up hair
and your wrinkled shawl.
I with my bandit hands
triumphant from ten assaults.

You remember none of this.
The past is the past. Although
you might, someday, return
like a dog to my side.

Luís Nieto Miranda

(translated by David Knowlton)
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