Enriqueta Carrington

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She of the Serpent Skirt
To a goddess of my Aztec ancestors

The Gods do feed on human hearts
Coatlicue is Goddess of Death and Birth
Whence all comes, whither all departs
Braided Serpents form Her skirts

Coatlicue is Goddess of Death and Birth
Obsidian is the knife of sacrifice
Braided Serpents form Her skirts
The seed must die that the crop may rise

Obsidian is the knife of sacrifice
Which slashes flesh, rends ribs apart
The seed must die that the crop may rise
The priest lifts high the palpitating heart

Which slashes flesh, rends ribs apart
Hers the implacable claw, Hers the all-giving power
The priest lifts high the palpitating heart
She the All-Conceiver, She the All-Devourer

Hers the generous hand, Hers the all-taking power
No need for knives, She’ll claim all things
She the All-Begetter, She the All-Devourer
In eternal ceaseless birthing

No need for knives, She’ll claim all things
Whence all comes, whither all departs
In eternal ceaseless birthing
The Gods do feed on human hearts

In Spanish

La de la Falda de Serpientes
A una diosa de mis antepasados aztecas

Los Dioses se alimentan de corazones humanos
Coatlicue es Deidad de la Vida, Deidad de la Muerte
De Sus manos viene todo, todo vuelve a Sus manos
En Su falda se entreteje serpiente con serpiente

Coatlicue es Deidad de la Vida, Deidad de la Muerte
Para el sacrificio cuchillo de negra obsidiana
En Su falda se entreteje serpiente con serpiente
Muera el grano hoy, así nazca cosecha mañana

Para el sacrificio cuchillo de negra obsidiana
Nos cercena las carnes, nos despedaza el costillar
Muera el grano hoy, así nazca cosecha mañana
El corazón arrancado no cesa su palpitar

Nos cercena las carnes, nos despedaza el costillar
Suyas la mano creadora, la garra destructora
El corazón arrancado no cesa su palpitar
Es la Omniconcebidora, la Omnidevoradora

Suyas la mano creadora, la garra destructora
Todo se lo adueña, el cuchillo no es requisito
Es la Omnidevoradora, es la Omnigenitora
Da eternamente a luz, en duro parto infinito

Todo se lo adueña, el cuchillo no es requisito
De Sus manos viene todo, todo vuelve a Sus manos
Da eternamente a luz, en duro parto infinito
Los Dioses se alimentan de corazones humanos

Enriqueta Carrington is a Mexican-English writer-mathematician, transplanted by fate or happenstance to the US. Her poetry in Spanish and English has appeared in Pedestal Magazine, Carnelian, WAH, and the US1 Worksheets, among other publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poetry translations have appeared in Rattapallax 13 and A Gathering of the Tribes. She is the editor and translator of the bilingual book Treasury of Mexican Love Poems, Quotations & Proverbs (Hippocrene Books). Some of her stories have appeared in SHOTS, the Magazine of Crime and Mystery, and The Plum Ruby Review. She teaches mathematics at Rutgers University.

Reading with Enriqueta is Carlos Hernández Peña. Carlos grew up in México and has lived in various U.S. cities over the past twenty-five years. In 2005 he launched the “Voices” program at the Princeton Public Library—poetry from around the world read in the original language and in English. His first collection of poetry, Moonmilk and Other Poems, was published by Ragged Sky Press in 2006. [www.raggedsky.com]

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Published in: on April 10, 2007 at 10:27 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s good to know someone writes about our ancestors gods, it will be nicer if you could put a picture of Coatlicue, to let others know who are you talking about.

  2. The obsidian knifes sacrifice our hearts
    to free our souls. My knife, as I write this,
    is of whiskey.
    Coatlicue the Goddess of Death has evaporated the water
    and given Birth to my pal
    jOHNNIE
    wALKER
    ice and scotch lifts high my palpitating heart
    Which slashes flesh, rends my ribs apart
    And whispers
    cheers.

  3. I am very proud been mexican and mathematician to see the nice poem of my friend
    and collegue Enriqueta Carrington.. our culture roots are great and I am very happy that
    Enriqueta trough her poems in english and spanish permit other people to know about
    the great goods of the Astecaz!

    Congratulations!!

  4. Enriqueta and Carlos,
    Coatlique and Kali seem to be be “blood “sisters, one bloddier than the other, except that Coatlique and the other Gods dont really need the knife, as you say.It is so hard for me to reconcile the gentle faces of the two Mexicans in this blog with the blood curdling images in the poem.A powerful poem indeed.I am glad these Gods and Godesses have gone where they belong.I hope. Shanti

  5. When we encounter a poem of a bilingual writer, we wonder which is the translation and which the original. In what language was that phrase conceived? That word? In her poem “She of the Serpent Skin”, Enriqueta Carrington achieves that either language keeps its own musicality and its own rhythm, it is very possible that the poem was conceived both in English and in Spanish as the writer is one of those lucky people who can think in both languages.

    She accomplishes an effective concretion of the English language as well as the sonorous contrast coming from the percussivity of its consonants, combined with the melodiousity of its acoustic ensembles of vocals. Whereas, in her use of Spanish, undisputedly learnt from its most classical aspects, the writer uses the clear and strong stability of this language, its harmonious and clear thoroughness, to explain even the smallest detail in a gradual manner.

    In the case of “She of the Serpent Skirt”, it is interesting to remember that for the ancient cultures of what we now call Mexico, as well as for other great cultures of humanity, as in India, the snake was considered as a benefactor and elevated deity. As a contrast to this, the philosophical influence of Christianity on the Western mind, as well as on the origins of the English language, has led to consider the snake as something so wicked that it becomes the symbol of evil itself.
    How strange and how difficult to undertake the quest of such a linguistic and conceptual union, but, in spite of these apparently irreconcilable realities, in her poem, Enriqueta Carrington accomplishes an act of poetical juggling between both dimensions, explaining human sacrifice not as a murder, but as a religious act belonging to the inevitability of Mesoamerican pre Hispanic fatalism linked to the sacred. She also exposes the supreme cruelty of most deities, and moreover, she establishes a link between Coatlicue and the Virgin Mary, as they both share an amazing characteristic, that of becoming pregnant in a magical way,to produce another deity . Coatlicue gets pregnant from a ball of yarn that falls from heaven into her womb….

  6. written in the Olympian mode , when the staircases of your mind,limitless to every climb arrives to mystic end.


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