Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Mirror-Bearer/ El portador del espejo

If a
glass could
mirror this
morning it
would be
sweet sea
east of Granada—
and today windless, still, and placid.
Brought low by drought, it drank
a seasonful of rain
and once again is fat
and sleek as an owl in
a hundred shades of gray.
Across to the other shore
stared back the mountains of Boaco and Chontales.
Above, His Royal Highness Sky and below and at his feet,
loyal servitor seconding every glance, the Mirror-Bearer Lake.

E. A. Costa

El Portador del Espejo

Si un
reflejar esta
mañana él
sería Coci-
bolca, mar
dulce al
este de Granada--
y hoy sin viento, inmóvil, y plácido.
Caído bajo por la sequía, ha bebido una temporada
de lluvia y de nuevo es
gordo y luminoso como
un buho de cien matices
de color gris. Sobre el 
lago a otra orilla se 
quedan mirando las montañas de Boaco y Chontales. Arriba
 estaban Su Alteza Real El Cielo y abajo a sus pies el servidor leal que
secunda cada mirada lanzada, el Portador del Espejo El Lago.


E. A. Costa        November 5, 2016        Granada, Nicaragua
N.B.: (1) Cocibolca is the local name for Lake Nicaragua, also known as Lake Granada, meaning in Nahuatl, “the sweet sea” (el mar dulce) where the “sweet” denotes fresh water as opposed to salt. (2) The Mirror-Bearer is the Mayan factotum that carried a mirror for the Prince or King to gaze into. Often a dwarf or a small carved figure, as here:

from a Wall Street Journal Article available here:

Mirrors, of metal, ore, polished obsidian and such are a distinctive and transcultural artifact of Meso-American cultures. Though probably used at times for cosmetics, the principal use for mirrors was religious and spiritual and was shared by many of the tribes in the area, including both Aztecs and Mayas, from Mexico in the North to Guatemala and further south where Maya also reached. The mirror was considered a channel to a spiritual realm that could not otherwise be seen, and perhaps also with properties of an amulet. Warriors, for example, wore mirrors on the small of the back. Mirrors were also identified with water and with the sun. In many carvings eyes are inset mirrors as are pools of water. A rare surviving wood carving of a Mayan Mirror-Bearer is available here: