Oh Mayan – poem by mare

Oh Mayan


Oh Mayan Woman,

ankles washed by swirling river

while you beat the farm

out of your husband’s soiled pants.


Oh Mayan Woman,

as you scour your dishes, your children bathe,

pollywogs in early sun

before Catholic school.


The agouti your father hunts,

fresh meat shared,

you scrub the fat and blood

in the current of the Columbia.


Your short, stout mothers in pastel dresses

scrub on ageless flat rocks

in shallow river bends.

And turn to disrobe bare-breasted

and kick their heels, to dive

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 soiled?


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

power yielding



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 silent,

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,

to guard against the tongues

that fork around  your

quiet ways.

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,




may 95


mare cromwell

Thanks to Carolyn Raffensberger for prompting me to put this poem up here. This comes out of spending a winter just up river from a Mayan village in the remote SW corner of Belize in 94-95. The Belizean government has secretly forged a deal with a logging company from Malaysia to log off large chunks of the rainforest farther upstream and it threatened to wreak havoc on the villagers entire way of life. I spent many hours hanging out with the women by the river, and it was their life blood.

To my knowledge the good news is that since that time the Belizean government had to back down and revoke the contract and the Mayan people have become far more politically astute on how to work as activists to prevent such clandestine agreements. Much of this is thanks to a group called “Ecologic“, which a friend of mine runs.

for the Earth,


About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, nature mystic and international speaker. Her books include: The Great Mother Bible; Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother; and If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America. She has studied with Native American teachers for nineteen years and currently sits on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness, and is the visionary behind the Great Mother Wisdom Gathering. She loves to be involved in Sacred Water Ceremonies. Mare is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home. www.marecromwell.com
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