To embrace the whale

Hi, Folks,

Next on my series of poetry posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have four poems by Brazilian poet Alice Sant’Anna, translated by Tiffany Higgins. Hope you enjoy!

Yours truly,

J.


THAT MOMENT AN ENORMOUS TAIL

by Alice Sant’Anna, translated by Tiffany Higgins
Source: Ghost Town Lit Mag

of the whale would cross the room
without much ado the beast
would dive deep into the floorboards
and surface without us noticing
on the sofa the missing subject
what I would like to but do not tell you
is to embrace the whale to plunge deep with her
I feel a scary tedium to these days
of standing water attracting mosquitoes
in spite of the agitation of these days
exhaustion of these days
the body that arrives exhausted at home
with hand stretched out in search
of a cup of water
any urgency to follow through to tuesday
or wednesday just floats
and the only wish
is to embrace the enormous
tail of the whale and to follow her

THE COUSINS

by Alice Sant’Anna, translated by Tiffany Higgins
Source: World Literature Today

it was number 48 the yellow house
a stairway and a pretty small
tree on the veranda
on which from time to time grew jaboticabas
so tiny that not even in make-believe
could we get a taste of fruit
all day was december on miguel
pereira street even when it was raining
on that day of the fall
from the scooter my cry echoing
and your surprise even when we
would disagree on the color of certain
afternoons or when we learned
together how to glide on the bicycles
something was always giving into shadow
at night a desire to stay a bit longer
our parents’ cars that were coming
like beetles, slow and fat
the cars that shouldn’t
no they couldn’t

THE WATER RUSHING IN THE SINK

by Alice Sant’Anna, translated by Tiffany Higgins
Source: Ghost Town Lit Mag

to wash the cherries well
out of season (& pretty expensive)
you are listening on headphones your breathing deep
in a stranger’s kitchen
you note that your rings appear more
like gears than rings
gears on your fingers a machine
you close your eyes for some minutes
feel the water soaking the steel the fruit
to make the cherries rusty (too expensive)
your mouth a risk that almost smiles
the distraction of metal cold inside the peel
you don’t know if what you hear is an echo
or your own voice distant
the owner of the house asks if you are singing
why are you singing so early?
you’d thought that you were silent
your breathing deep

THE POSTCARD FROM CLARA REACHED ME

by Alice Sant’Anna, translated by Tiffany Higgins
Source: Ghost Town Lit Mag

when the helicopters were circling the apartment building
two in the morning and everyone was sleeping
only the buzzing of the propellers
celebrated the arrival
of the illuminated sky of hong kong
which in the photo was colored
with skyscrapers anxious for the coming of the ferry boat
that was alighting after
a slow, calm journey
distinct from the siren that was wrapping
around the dream of my neighbors
I doubted clara would understand
the murmur of the blades—are these the bees
of our tropical country?
or another insect, perhaps more robust?
how to explain all this buzzing and hovering to clara?


Original poems in Portuguese

UM ENORME RABO DE BALEIA

cruzaria a sala nesse momento
sem barulho algum o bicho
afundaria nas tábuas corridas
e sumiria sem que percebêssemos
no sofá a falta de assunto
o que eu queria mas não te conto
é abraçar a baleia mergulhar com ela
sinto um tédio pavoroso desses dias
de água parada acumulando mosquito
apesar da agitação dos dias
da exaustão dos dias
o corpo que chega exausto em casa
com a mão esticada em busca
de um copo d’água
a urgência de seguir para uma terça
ou quarta boia e a vontade
é de abraçar um enorme
rabo de baleia seguir com ela

os primos

era número 48 a casa amarela
uma escadinha e uma árvore
bem pequena na varanda
que de vez em quando dava jabuticaba
tão mirrada que nem em faz de conta a gente
sentia gosto de fruta
todo dia era dezembro na rua
miguel pereira mesmo quando chovia mesmo
naquele dia do tombo
de patinete o meu grito ecoando
e o seu espanto até quando a gente
discordava da cor de certas tardes ou quando
aprendeu junto a deslizar nas bicicletas
alguma coisa sempre escurecia
de noite uma vontade de ficar um pouco mais
os carros dos pais que chegavam
como besouros lentos e gordos
os carros que não deviam
não podiam

A ÁGUA TRANSBORDAVA DA PIA

para lavar bem lavadas as cerejas
fora de época (caras demais)
com os fones ouvia a respiração alta
na cozinha de uma estranha
nota que os anéis mais parecem
engrenagens que anéis
as engrenagens nos dedos uma máquina
fecha os olhos por alguns minutos
sente a água molhando o aço a fruta
enferrujar as cerejas (tão caras)
a boca um risco que quase sorri
a distração do metal gelado na casca
não sabe se o que ouve é eco
ou sua própria voz distante
a dona da casa pergunta se está cantando
por que está cantando tão cedo?
achava que estivesse muda
a respiração alta

O POSTAL DE CLARA ME ALCANÇOU

quando os helicópteros rondavam o prédio
duas da manhã e todos dormiam
apenas o zumbir das hélices
festejava a chegada
do céu iluminado de hong kong
que numa foto noturna se coloriu
de arranha-céus ansiosos pela vinda do ferry boat
que abarcaria depois de uma passagem
lenta, tranquila diferentemente da sirene que embala
o sono dos moradores do meu bairro
clara não conseguiria entender
o rumor das hélices, seriam abelhas
de um país tropical?
ou outro inseto, talvez mais robusto?
como explicar o voo para clara?

Source of the original poems: Rabo de baleia (2013)


Marcelle Loubchansky, Mobi Dick, 1956
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