Poems

Make Me Drunk with Your Kisses

Notes

Nataly Kelly  writes:
[1] The sekut is a variety of vanilla that grows in the Amazon. The anent in this caseis the sacred song released by a plant through its fragrance for a loved one. As María Clara explains, Anentfor the Shuar woman is like a love song, a ballad, or what my mother used to sing at sunset while waiting for my father, to prevent him from going far away or abandoning the home, to remind him that she was his true love, for that she used the sekut, which is a little plant that grows deep within the jungle. It's like a tiny palm with white flowers and an exquisite perfume that fills you with passion and reaches your being... that's what my dear grandmother in heaven used to say. And they say, that only when a loved one who has passed away loves you deeply, does the plant release its fragrance. In years past, the Shuar women placed it between their breasts to smell nice. Now, every time I am in the jungle and I smell that perfume, my mother is there by my side.
[2] The makich is a ceremonial anklet used for healing as well as dancing and warding away evil spirits. The anklet is made of seeds and makes a rattling sound.
[3] The shakap is worn around the waist, much like a coin belt worn by belly dancers, but made of seeds, and makes a similar jangly sound. It has a similar ceremonial and healing purpose as the makich.
[4] In the Shuar culture, the chicha masticada is prepared only by women, and is a fermented maize drink made by chewing and spitting. Here, María Clara specifies chicha masticada to differentiate it from other types of chicha which are not made using the traditional method.

Sarah Maguire writes: Unsurprisingly, translating this poem took a great deal of detailed discussion, much of it in relalation to how we should render the Shuar terms and customs mentioned in this beautiful poem.

We decided to use 'vanilla flower' for sekut because, as Nataly's note, above, explains, this plant is a member of the vanilla family.

We debated a great deal about the chicha masticata, the specially fermented spirit that, for the Shuar, is invested with the wisdom of Arutam

[1] The sekut is a variety of vanilla that grows in the Amazon. The anent in this caseis the sacred song released by a plant through its fragrance for a loved one. As María Clara explains, "Anentfor the Shuar woman is like a love song, a ballad, or what my mother used to sing at sunset while waiting for my father, to prevent him from going far away or abandoning the home, to remind him that she was his true love, for that she used the sekut, which is a little plant that grows deep within the jungle. It's like a tiny palm with white flowers and an exquisite perfume that fills you with passion and reaches your being... that's what my dear grandmother in heaven used to say. And they say, that only when a loved one who has passed away loves you deeply, does the plant release its fragrance. In years past, the Shuar women placed it between their breasts to smell nice. Now, every time I am in the jungle and I smell that perfume, my mother is there by my side."

[2] The makich is a ceremonial anklet used for healing as well as dancing and warding away evil spirits. The anklet is made of seeds and makes a rattling sound.

[3] The shakap is worn around the waist, much like a coin belt worn by belly dancers, but made of seeds, and makes a similar jangly sound. It has a similar ceremonial and healing purpose as the makich.

[4] The word naikim is used in the original. It is a Shuar word that means sand.

[5] In the Shuar culture, the chicha masticada is prepared only by women, and is a fermented maize drink made by chewing and spitting. Here, María Clara specifies chicha masticada to differentiate it from other types of chicha which are not made using the traditional method.

[6] She uses the term envenenada, but here it does not mean poisoned, and she was clear to state that there should be no negative connotation in the translation, so I have used soaked, but steeped is another option.

[7] Here, I have added the word holy to convey that Arutam is considered to be a holy spirit.

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