if this signal flashes out so feebly in the dark

“Woman overboard

– by Margarida Vale de Gato

MAYDAY I call, because the war goes on;
and empty is the vessel in which I left –
it slacks at the bottom where the sway is piercing,
sucking the leaking slit, a lack – no
a cork jar drifting;
I explain: it’s terracotta and fracture,
and I am sparse, and massive the fluidity.
It will be too late, I know, if relief ever comes:
if this signal  flashes out so feebly in the dark,
and water does not hold on to any writing
if here I rest: hardly an erasure, soft
as the seam the wave will slowly stitch
as a quilt over my drowning.”

(Translated by Juliana Brina)

Original poem in Portuguese:


MAYDAY lanço, porque a guerra dura
e está vazio o vaso em que parti
e cede ao fundo onde a vaga fura,
suga a fissura, uma falta – não
um tarro de cortiça que vogasse;
especifico: é terracota e fractura,
e eu sou esparsa, e a liquidez maciça.
Tarde, sei, será, se vier socorro:
se transluz pouco ao escuro este sinal,
e a água não prevê qualquer escritura
se jazo aqui: rasura apenas, branda
a costura, fará a onda em ponto
lento um manto sobre o afogamento.

(Source: Mulher ao Mar. Mariposa Azual, Lisboa, 2010)

White wave. Milton Avery, 1954


4 thoughts on “if this signal flashes out so feebly in the dark

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