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  • Akosua Biraa

tlamatinis funambulism

The earth is like a great comal

above God’s hot coals

in my hand it lies dying

the turtle dove that dreamed of cooing you to sleep

Just yesterday

I was a bell

joyfully coming and going

Why is it birthed in me

to knife the heart

Now bring me

the birds

that you find in the trees


goes and comes like the night

Laugh shadow

or beat it to look for your skeleton!

With these memories, how can I feel hurt?

Though you left me, how can I abhor you?

Who said

Forgetting exists

Maybe because of this, God doesn’t die

Guidxilayú ri’ naca ti dxia naro’ba’ qui gapa xhibia’

candaabi’ lu xté diuxi

ndaani’ naya’ nexheguundu’ guguhuiini’

guleza lii

Neegue’ ca nga

rilué’ xquiibalé yu’du’

ze’ ne zeeda

xiñee nisi nuaa’

gudxiga’ yaana’ xii

Latané naa nagasi

guirá manihuiini’ ruunda’

guidxélatu lu yaga,


rie ne reeda casi huaxhinni

Bixidxi la’ bandá’

pacaa guyé yeyubi dxitaládilu’

Paraa chiguniná guendarietenala’ dxi’ naa ya’

Paraa, neca zelu,’ gácananaladxe’ lii ya’

Tuungue ná

Nabani guendarusiaaanda’

Zándaca runi nga diuxi qui huayati


comal a cast iron skillet for cooking tortillas (

(from the word “comalli” in Nahuatl)

funambulism tight rope walking; a show, especially of mental agility


tlamatinis habitual knowers of things


This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from Víctor Terán’s (2010) “Poems/Diidxado”, as translated by David Shook and published by Poetry Translation Centre Ltd. These are phrases from both the Zapotec versions and the English translations.

So beautifully composed is this work. Pure poetry!

I just had to do this ad hoc sharing of yet another must #ReadIt—a lovely little compilation that I borrowed last night from The Library of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD). Here, where I am currently doing the West African Writers Residency Programme 2022.

Today is only day two and, already, I am back in deep love with all things literary, what with being in this intellectual space—surrounded by so many great books to read, as well as the company of some pretty cool co-conspirators. From the high pile of books I’ve borrowed, I expect there will be many more ad hoc #ReadIt posts to come.

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