La Llorona & Water Witness
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La Llorona & Water Witness

Poet Nadine Antoinette Maestas reimagines La Llorona as a protector of water, mourning the poisoning of rivers. Retablo by Rebecca Artemisa.

La Llorona & Water Witness

Poet Nadine Antoinette Maestas reimagines La Llorona as a protector of water, mourning the poisoning of rivers. Retablo by Rebecca Artemisa.

La Llorona

I know an evening song 

of terrifying tears

flooding the arroyos

and the driest 

reddest canyons


lugubrious La Llorona 

wailing her song in the darkest 

mourning hours 

wearing a translucent white gown

in the places that were once rivers


some say 

she cries for the lost land and was first heard in the years before the Spanish came, 

some say 

she cried for her own children murdered by her own hand 

some say 

she appears as a beautiful woman and others say

a rolling ball of fire, 

that stills 


others claim 

to see 

an apparitional mist that cries 

for the poisoning of the water

for the drying of the rivers 

and for the carelessness of the people


I say she sees the land as a material scene of forces, and scorched hills, and emptied cities

reflecting complex civilizations

and I say that this evening song seems to know the most midnight of places


Like what you’re reading?

Water Witness

La Llorona watches the water bloom with algae

watches the rivers turn yellow and orange,

pool with crude oil, catch on fire


for centuries 

La Llorona has been watching 

the rivers 

and searching 

for children 

under the light of stars and moons

changing with months 

and seasons


the tilt of earth

years and decades 

then centuries 


as the water coagulates

the refuse of the people

Top image: "Retablo" by Rebecca Artemisa. Courtesy of the artist.

Find books by Nadine Antoinette Maestas and other Ofrenda contributors in our Bookshop.

Top image: "Retablo" by Rebecca Artemisa. Courtesy of the artist.

Find books by Nadine Antoinette Maestas and other Ofrenda contributors in our Bookshop.

Top image: "Retablo" by Rebecca Artemisa. Courtesy of the artist.

Find books by Nadine Antoinette Maestas and other Ofrenda contributors in our Bookshop.

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