Academic journal article Making Connections

Contagion

Academic journal article Making Connections

Contagion

Article excerpt

- Doña Marina; ca. 1528; Mexico City

That green-backed fly glistens and works its limbs below its mouth, as if wringing out a nervous

prayer. It strokes its wings like a priest smoothing his robes before sitting. Still now, he listens

for the throb of blood, probes the smallest eruption. His patience is a hunger, his jaws set

with absolution, and there is only the puddled rain or grave lake water. He creeps across the scabs

weeping near my last toe but stops where the flesh is still whole. There he works his face and worries

his hands as if I cannot be gotten from them.

According to Bernai Diaz, the caciques of Tabasco gave Doña Marina (also Marina or La Malinche or Malintzin) (ca. 1502-ca. 1528) and nineteen other Indian women to Cortés and the Spaniards in March 1519. Because she could converse in Mayan and also knew Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica, this allowed Cortés to speak-through Aguilar, a Spaniard who also knew Mayan, and then Marina-to Nahuatl speakers between the coast and the Valley of Mexico. By the time the Spaniards arrived in Tenochtitlan and Cortés met Moctezuma on 8 November 1519, she knew enough Spanish to translate without Aguilar's assistance (80-87). …

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