Katia Mitova




Katia Mitova


Oókempán* walks on all fours.

There is a shell on his back

and a child in the shell –

a stolen child, a stolen child.


When Oókempán spots a boy,

a boy far from his toldo,

he lures the boy with words

sweet as a calafate blossom:


“There is a horse in my shell,”

Oókempán says, “the wind’s horse

locked up, waiting for you.

Free the horse, boy!”


When Oókempán spots a girl,

a girl at the river, his words glisten

like silver: “Come to my shell,”

he says. “Inside, there is a mirror.”


It is dark in Oókempán’s shell –

I’ve been there. I lived there.

Oókempán stole me once

and showed me nothing.


I saw it with my own eyes

in Oókempán’s shell. I saw nothing

and was not scared then.

But if he steals me now, I will die.




*Oókempán, a monster in the mythology of the Tehuelche Indians inhabiting Southern Patagonia,

steals little children because he is lonely.




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