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OH MAYAN by Mare Cromwell

 This poem was written in my mid-30's, when I was living off the grid in a remote corner of Belize…

 The tiny agro-forestry research center where I lived was upstream of a Mayan village (refugees from Guatamala, who moved to that part of Belize in the 50's). Essentially, the Belizean government had sold the timber rights of the tropical rainforest upstream to a Malaysian company, very quietly.

It was the impetus for some of the local leaders to start to ally with Non- Governmental Organizations in the USA to become effective activists.

I'm not certain what the final resolution was to the logging contract, as this was 1994 when I was there. I would like to think all of that forest has been preserved by this time. Hope, at least.
~Art by Paula Nicho Cumes~

Oh Mayan

Oh Mayan Woman,
ankles washed by swirling river
while you beat the farm
out of your husband's soiled

Oh Mayan Woman,
as you scour your dishes,
your children bathe,
pollywogs in early sun
before Catholic

The agouti your father hunts,
fresh meat shared,
you scrub the fat and blood
in the current of the

Your short, stout mothers
in pastel dresses
scrub on ageless flat rocks
in shallow river bends.
And turn
to disrobe
and kick their heels,
and wash their long black locks.

The river,
it runs so clear,
so quick in high rain,
so languid in the sweltering
April days.
It is your soul,
more than the soil.

Oh Mayan Woman,
what will you do
when they cut the trees,
and the water runs,
like your husband's clothes, so

What will you do
when the flow is choked and
barely ebbs past
the village

What will you do when
the primary wilds
are entered
in logging force,
the axes of testosterone

Will you know the pain?
Will you see the rape
before it starts --
to hug the chests
and limbs of fellow forest?
To block the cut
before the wounds are
scarred throughout
your head

Or will the attack
be so
and you so innocent --
that your forest maidenheads
will be ripped
before a scream can cry out

Oh Mayan Woman,
Beware the wolves,
Know of the foreign fangs
with your men,
and fight the insidious teeth of those
so far

Learn to hold those trees,
and meet the tongues
that fork around  your
quiet ways.
Wake up!
Wake Up!

The trees they call you.
The waters cry your name
each night as you climb
the banks
with dishes clean,
your day
their days,
~Art by Paula Nicho Cumes~

Mare Cromwell is an award-winning author, plant intuitive, sacred gardener, and worm herder. She has studied for seventeen years with Native American medicine people and her most recent book is Messages from Mother: Earth Mother. Her first book is: If I Gave You God’s Phone Number: Searching for Spirituality in America. She calls Western Maryland home and thinks Sacred Silliness absolutely ranks. You may connect with Mare through her Messages From Mother website here, or her For The Earth blog here

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~ 


  1. Catherine -
    Thank you for creating such a beautiful page with very appropriate art to match this poem... you are a gift to us... hugs, blessings, blessings, mare

    1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem, dear Mare. You are always welcome here. Hugs and love...xoxo ~Catherine~

  2. Mare, I found myself following your poem, holding my breath, feeling the imminent danger, wanting to wrap my body around the trees. Thank you....


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