from aztec to english, from definition to poem...
it is ashen, ash colored. at the top of its head and the throat, its feathers are flaming like fire. they glisten. they glow.
amoyotl (a water-strider):
it is like a fly, small and round. it has legs, it has wings; it is dry. it goes on the surface of the water; it is a flyer. it buzzes. it sings.
bitumen (a shellfish):
it falls out on the ocean shore; it falls out like mud.
it is white. one is large, one is small. it is spiralled, marvelous. it is that which can be blown, which resounds. i blow the seashell. i improve, i polish the seashell.
it is round, large, like a severed head.
it becomes long, deep; it widens, extends, narrows. it is a constricted place, a narrowed place, one of the hollowed-out places. there are roughened places; there are asperous places. it is frightening, a fearful place, a place of death. it is called a place of death because there is dying. it is a place of darkness; it darkens; it stands ever dark. it stands wide-mouthed; it is widemouthed. it is wide-mouthed; it is narrow mouthed. it has mouths which pass through. i place myself in the cave. i enter the cave.
from the 11th book of bernardino de sahagiun's "general history of the things of new spain" (florentine codex) translated from the aztec into english by charles e. dibble and arthur anderson, 1963, via "some/thing" issue 1, spring 1965, titled "found poems" by jerome rothenberg.