Two Quechua Poems

A photograph of a Native weave on a wooden loom

The audio recording of “Simi” can be found here on the Musuq Illa website.


by Olivia Reginaldo

Kay simiy ruwasqaykita atipanchu
qilla qalluy
qulluypaq qillqan
Kay simiy kasqaykita kamarikunchu
chukchu kichka
chikan kanchu
Kay simiy ripusqaykita aypanchu
nanayniy ninay
niy nina



My words cannot conjure the things you do
my idle tongue
writes toward a vanishing
My words cannot enclose all that you are
a trembling of thorns
absolutes exist nowhere
My words are no match for your retreat
give voice to my affliction
say fire



Mis palabras no pueden superar las cosas que haces
mi ociosa lengua
escribe para la extinción
Mis palabras no pueden contener lo que eres
temblor de espinas
lo absoluto no existe
Mis palabras son incapaces de alcanzar tu partida
convocar mi dolencia
decir fuego

Spanish translation by Pablo Landeo Muñoz

Editorial note: The Quechua original first appeared in Musuq Illa: A Digital Quechua Poetry Collective (2021), © by Olivia Reginaldo. Pablo Landeo’s Spanish translation first appeared in Revista OJO X OJO 1 (2021).


The audio recording of “Tik’ha Takiy” can be found here on the Musuq Illa website.


Tik’ha Takiy | Song to the Flowers

by Elvira Espejo Ayca

Oh mallow root, mallow root
across these windswept heights,
my lover roams

Once young,
the sun was on the rise
and now,
the sun descends

The clouds advance, the winds they swell
The people come, from sorrows they come
With the rains they come, with the winds they come
and thus, for you, they come

Across the sapphire river, across the Pukara plain
In search of you I shall
walk on, and so, walk on

Near here, chikaylla you might come
So far, karumanta, you can’t wish to flee

Could that be you, just there
behind me?
and me here still searching
for you

And I will go downriver
And I will go upriver
Where my love shall I find you?

Traversing the pampas of Oruro
crossing Bolivia
gathering just dahlias

I shall leave Oruro now
my woven aguayo
carrying cloth for all things
what reason to remain?

And high above, Condor
his white shawl tightly tied
above sacred Illimani’s peak
he ascends
Where is it now he is off to?

And so you are my only
And so I am yours only
And so we shall be together

I shall steal you away, leading you
Within my heart, leading you
away . . .

Translation from the Quechua


Tik’ha Takiy

Malwa saphi malwa saphi
munasqay luma wasapi

Juch’uy nuqa kaxti
intipis phawarin
kunan wiñapuxtin
intipis pakaykun

Phuyu phuyumuchhan wayrawan jamuchhan
runa jamuchhan kuyay kuyay jamuchhan

Parawan suxrawan jamuchhan
qanrayku jina jamuchhan

Silisti mayu pukara pampa
noqa purimuni qanta mask’aspa

Kay chikaymanta chikaylla purinki
kay karumanta ama munankichu

Ima munaspa qhipay purinki
nuqata qanta maskaspa?

Uraymayuntachus risax
wichay mayuntachus risax
mayllapichus taripallasqayki?

Ururu pampa richhaspa
Bolivia mask’aspa
Dalias t’ikasta pallaspa
Waqaspa purini

Llijllitayta chinkachikurqani
Ururumanta kunan ripuchhani

Kuntursituy altu phawa
Yurax chalinita wataykusqa
illimani limantachus phawachhanki
Mayllapitax purichhanki?

Qanllachu nuqapax
Nuqachu qanllapax
Kayjina waqanaypax

Suwasqayki pusasqayki
Sunqa ukunta pusasqayki . . .


Canto a las flores

Raíz de malva, raíz de malva
mi amado vaga por cerros vacíos

Cuando era niña
el sol subía
ahora que me acerco al fin
el sol baja

Las nubes se asoman, el viento sopla
las personas vienen, de pena vienen

Con lluvia viene, con viento viene
por ti así vienen

Por el río azul, por la pampa de Pukara
En busca de ti caminaré

Por estas cercanías has de llegar
por esas lejanías no has de querer ir

¿Qué queriendo llegaste por mi detrás?
y yo en busca de ti

Iré por el río de abajo
Iré por el río de arriba
¿Dónde te encontraré?

Caminando por las pampas de Oruro
buscando Bolivia,
Recogiendo flores de dalia
Llorando siempre he caminado

Me estoy yendo de Oruro
Perdido mi aguayo
No hay razón para quedarme

El cóndor que vuela por las alturas
Con su chalina blanca amarrada
Pasando por el cerro Illimani
¿a dónde siempre estará yendo?

Tú serás para mí
Yo seré para ti
Para estar siempre juntos

Te voy a robar
te voy a llevar
Para dentro de mi corazón
Te voy a llevar . . .

Spanish translation by Elvira Espejo Ayca

Editorial note: From Kaypi jaqhaypi / Por aquí, por allá (Lima: Pakarina Ediciones, 2017), © Elvira Espejo Ayca.

Olivia Reginaldo (Huancavelica, Perú) is an editor and contributing writer for the Atuqpa Chupan Quechua-language literary magazine. Reginaldo’s Quechua-language poetry has been featured in various literary and academic publications in Latin America, the US, and Europe. She is currently completing postgraduate studies in “plurilingualism and interculturality” at the University of Strasbourg, France.

Elvira Espejo Ayca is an award winning poet, visual artist, weaver, and narrator of the indigenous Aymara and Quechua oral traditions of her home region of Oruro (Qaqachaka ayllu community), Bolivia. She is the director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in La Paz and was awarded the Goethe Medal in 2020.

Alison Krögel is an associate professor of Quechua and Andean Studies at the University of Denver and the editor of the digital Quechua poetry collective, Musuq Illa. Her latest book of literary criticism—Musuq Illa: Poética del harawi en runasimi (20002020)—was published in 2021 and focuses on contemporary Quechua poetry from Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia.

Pablo Landeo Muñoz writes poetry and short fiction and is the founding editor of the Atuqpa Chupan literary magazine. In 2018 he was awarded the Peruvian National Prize for Literature in Indigenous Languages for his Quechua-language novel Aqupampa.