Seth Michelson writes: Liliana Ancalao (b.1961) is a leading Mapuche poet. She was born in Puel Mapu, also known as the Republic of Argentina. The Mapuche have traversed the southern third of South America for some twenty-thousand years, including their vital travel along an Andean route that would be appropriated and formalized by Argentina into National Route 40. Liliana's poem reflects on this transformation. Women of the Big Sky is the first single-author book of poetry in English-language translation by a female Mapuche writer from territorial Argentina.

(Note: Mapuzungun words and phrases in Seth Michelson's English translation are glossed below)

a photo on route 40

it no longer runs
from the Senguerr River to the Genoa
no matter how much mate and talk
we pour over

when walking the route
pu lamngen
it once led us to Copawe’s brown ash
another time the white wind didn’t recognize us
this time we returned splitting fog

always straining sight
not to miss footprints

the groundwater of memory
surges from the land
here dinosaurs blackened in their own oil

here the ash of the fires that burned
he of the choike feet
he who killed his father
he who left, teaching us the loneliness in waiting for him

here the snort of Orkeke’s and Casimiro’s horses
on one of their trips
to the Mapuche Applelands

and here those without memory
those who no longer raise their arms to
kalfuwenufuchá kalfuwenukushe

here the weather-beaten men
ready to make lassos of rawhide
and subject again the bull Chupey
to the brutal
bellowing like that of the konas
trapped in thunder

the thunder that our enclosed
and our lonco Inakayal heard
in the basement of this museum of the horrors
of the holocaust

o how the memory goes to its affections
rises like the dew that chills the ankles
rises to the banks of these rivers
and stops us a moment on this route

we go out into air that bends us
that combs our hair as if scrub brush
and we take a photo of this image
for which we need no reminder.

kiñe azentu futa wariarupu 40 mo

Senguer leufü püle ka Genoa pule
alünmaiñ iñ akun
fentre mate ka fentre ngutram
kuchalleliñ rume

rupaliñ futa wariarupu mo
pu lamngen
kiñe rupa amufuiñ Kopawe ñi pu trufken püle
ka rupa  plang kürüf kangeitueiñ mew
tufachi rupa wiñoiñ  ti chiway nülakünuiñ

rumel kintuleiñ ti pukintuwe
ñamümlafilu pünon

memoria ñi pu napa
kangeltuy mapu mew
tufa mew  pu dinosaurios kurüyiwiñ mo

tufa mew  kütral ñi pu trufken
fey, choikenamun, üiyümefi
fey lantufi ñi chau
fey amutuy, kimeleiñ mew:
 ti  kizulen, petu ünümafiñ

tufa mew  pu neyün Orkeke engu Kasimiro yu kawel
kiñe amukan mo
Manshana Mapu püle

tufa mew puche  memorianokechi
pu che witrapramlayngun pu lipang
kalfuwenufuchá kalfuwenukushe

tufa mew chi pu wentru yafükünuwn
zewman lashu ñi pu trülke mo
nüniefin ka rupa chupey toro mo
füchañma mo
koatun chum pu kona
muleyngun tralkan mo

pu tralkan allkutuyngun iñ che
iñ lonko Inakayal
pu sótano mo yañ museo
ñi holokausto

ay chum amuy ti memoria ayün mew
wenupray trürngey ti mülum firkümfiüy pu palipali
pranüy inal yu leufü

katrütunieiñ mew alumna tufa fucha wariarupu mo

tripaiñ neyen mapu mo müchameiñ mew
runkaeiñ mew trürngey pu neneo
zeumiñ kiñe azentu tufa azentun
recuerdo molaiñ

una foto en la ruta 40

desde el río Senguerr al Genoa
no se llega más
por más mate y conversación
que vayamos lavando

si habremos andado por esta ruta
pu lamngen
una vez nos dirigíamos a las cenizas marrones del Copawe
otra, nos desconoció el viento blanco
esta vez, volvimos abriendo la neblina

siempre esforzando la vista
para no perder la huella

las napas de la memoria
se distinguen en la tierra
acá los dinosaurios ennegrecidos en su propio aceite

acá las cenizas de los fuegos que encendió
el de las patas de choike,
el que tuvo que matar a su padre,
el que se fue, enseñándonos la soledad de esperarlo

acá el resoplido de los caballos de Orkeke y Casimiro
en uno de sus viajes
al Manzana Mapu

y acá los sin memoria
los que no levantaban más los brazos a
kalfuwenufuchá kalfuwenukushe

acá los hombres curtidos
como para hacer lazos con sus tientos
y sujetar otra vez al chupey toro
al tremendo
al hermoso
bramando como los konas
que se quedaron en los truenos

los truenos que escuchaba nuestra gente
y nuestro lonko Inakayal
en los sótanos de ese museo del horror
del holocausto

ay cómo se va la memoria a la querencia
asciende como el rocío que enfría los tobillos
sube hasta las orillas de estos ríos
y nos detiene un rato en esta ruta

salimos al aire que nos dobla
nos peina como a neneos.
y sacamos una foto de esta imagen
para la que no necesitamos el recuerdo.

Pu lamngen: my brothers and sisters

Copawe: Copawe, or Copahue, is a stratovolcano in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile

Choike: ostrich

Orkeke and Casimiro: Orkeke (c.1810-1884) was a Tehuelche cacique in territorial Argentina who led his people up and down Route 40 before being captured by the Argentine army for resisting the state’s authority and transferred to Buenos Aires, where he died. Of note he also willingly guided the British explorer George Chaworth Musters on his journey through Patagonia in the 1850s. Casimiro Biguá (1819-1874) was a Tehuelche cacique in territorial Argentina who on 3 November 1869 raised the Argentine flag. Of note, for his effort to recognize Argentine sovereignty over Tehuelche and Mapuche land, he had been named a Lieutenant Colonel of the Argentine Army by Argentine President Bartolomé Mitre on 5 July 1865.

Manzana Mapu: This refers to the swath of Patagonia containing vast apple orchards, which featured prominently in the Mapuche diet of the region and were termed manzanache or manzaneros by the Mapuche.

Kalfuwenufuchá kalfuwenukushe: this is Liliana’s Mapuche divine invocation, and it literally translates as Elders of the Blue Above

Konas: warriors

Women of the Big Sky (Word Works, 2020; in Mapuzungun, Spanish, and English) was to debut at AWP 2020. That event was cancelled. Copies may be ordered through the press.