Three Poems by Marianna Stephania, translated by Mark Statman

To speak the language of birds

Open your body to its center and let light penetrate.
Write the poem within, into flesh.
Paint blue your entrails, mix your blood.
Sew up your mouth.
Give yourself a beak like a bird.
Pull out your eyes.
Hammer small mirrors into your heart.


Before the seizure, the wound,
plant your left eye in the center of
your chest.

Let it become stone,

Carry in your body the house in ruins.
Open the earth,
plant something not born dead.

What grows in the earth of the graveyard?

From one side of my body,
nothing has flowered for a very long time.
I throw seeds and in you they don’t grow.

Is it that here no one will forget anything?
The spear piercing the iris
marks a new beginning.

Always plant in silence,
any other way
snakes appear.


Now I know nothing of myself.
Not even my name brings me news of me.
No nocturnal messenger will break
this sky.

Repeat my name a hundred times.

Only your voice could
birth this body.
Marianna Stephania (Oaxaca, 1990) is a cultural worker and poet. Her first chapbook, Uñas sucias, was published this year by the Centro de Escritores Oaxaqueños.
Mark Statman’s most recent book is the translation collection, Never Made in America: Selected Poetry of Martín Barea Mattos (Lavender Ink/diálogos, 2017). His poetry collections include That Train Again (Lavender Ink, 2015), A Map of the Winds (Lavender Ink, 2013) and Tourist at a Miracle (Hanging Loose, 2010). Other translations include Black Tulips: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa (University of New Orleans Press, 2012), the first English language translation of the significant poet of Spain’s Generation of 1927, and, with Pablo Medina, a translation of Federico García Lorca’s Poet in New York (Grove 2008), A former Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School, he lives in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca and Oaxaca de Juárez, MX.