This is the point, an astonishment

Annika Elisabeth von Hausswolff, Oh Mother What Have You Done #008, 2019
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By PRISCILA FIGUEIREDO*

seven poems

 

The door

It's so nice when there's a door
even when we find it closed.
Even if they tell us: “For you and us
like you, it will always be closed”.
I insist, it feels so good — I hit her with the knot
of the fingers, I wait, I hit again,
and hit her with my outstretched hand
if my impatience grows.
But the door, it must be said, has
where to get him. When you are tolerant
she even allows us to lie down next to her,
that we spend the morning snuggled up
on your flat chest.

There are false doors,
like false books, like false trapdoors.
What they have in common is the fact that they lead nowhere.
A closed door won't get you anywhere either,
but in it you set your claws, your marks,
down to your scribbles, and, more importantly,
there is the inside of the door,
the landscape deaf to its appeals, prolific and secret.

 

Anxiety of a cockroach

One day I landed on the chest of a beautiful girl.
I wasn't attracted to her, but I wanted to find out.
how high did i fly
or whether it flew better than a chicken.
I was young, back then
was in all my exuberance and was smarter,
— I risked more too —;
but when someone made her notice very carefully
my unwanted and insolent presence
she lowered her eyes and a millimeter her head
about me, becoming paralyzed; others gathered there
there was a great silence, from fear and also
to play dead until the flick
of a young man throw me far away.

I am seen in such a way as an enemy
that once a housewife came to me
swallow it with the white fat and all,
willing to beat me and at the same time steal
all my energy, all my power.
She then lost count of time,
watched the ages go by,
and later reported to have been transformed,
be a new person —
it's the kind of experience you only get
devouring his greatest enemy.

When men were waiting for the great nuclear explosion
it was common to hear: “At the end of the day
only they will remain, dominating the Earth, swarming
in the shrapnel, covering the incinerated fields,
will contemplate the landscape suddenly emptied of us,
your fearful executioners —
would never have expected such a quick promotion —,
will leave the sewers, leveling up,
will go to the highest coveted places
and they're going to have a party."

from hearing this so much
we begin to glimpse a more fixed horizon
than that of a crevice, an open garbage can,
an open sewer
open is the hope
those who live underground.
For a long time,
after this great advent we would go
to enjoy the leftovers of countless feasts,
licking fresh caramels,
abandoned on the floor of shadows;
our supper would go on and on—and even if
there wasn't much more afterwards, always,
somewhere we would still find
dainties to satisfy us, and no one to step on us.

But then what? I thought. And after after?
When we had enjoyed everything, from the good to the bad?
Would we also survive? there would be
more waste or fatty meat.
This worrying future within the future that
would begin at the end of man's future
it was still so, so far away and it was already bothering me…
Maybe it's not good to survive the man;
by a strange ambiguity, civilization
led us to multiply, gave us a place
guaranteed, though hated. diversified
our palate, our way of being.
The disgust we inspire in him is honorable,
sewage, prison, markets, we take care of it
and everything else that goes on like that.
Looks like we own it
it doesn't matter if we live all the time in ambush.
This don't-me-touch with us is a minor thing.
Our power seems enormous.
Yes, let man be preserved.

 

oh is the excuse tattered! —
I have no way to help
so much wretched misery:
caught in the sleeve, the sleeve
crumbles in the hand;
I pull the bar, arre, it's dust, it happens
with exhumed corpse.

Buttons don't match buttonholes
in the tattered excuse;
like long and contrite guilt
she drags the chant.

Turn away your funny face,
sometimes nauseating — you should
was working in the circus, juggling,
walk that tightrope.
what a show it would be
see you doubly in trouble
for being yourself and being there!

I kiss your face without shame,
made of all that is material —
but now leave, escape, evade, go
see if I'm around the corner, little clown!

 

Reflections from my birthday

Tomorrow I will turn 48 —
8 is an arabesque in the garden,
it is green and each of its rings borders
a bucket of clean water.
The temperature will be for a year
always slightly above ambient temperature.
From 4 I made a chair some time ago —
there's plenty of room for my hips,
at this point already so dexterous
to balance on one leg.

Of course you'll find me sitting on it tomorrow
as it has been in recent years —
the news will be
I put a foot
in every bucket
and drop the spirit there:
“Oh now relax
dip your oppressed little feet —
day after tomorrow who knows if not
they will give you even smaller shoes.”

 

Hinges

The window is ajar
the door is too
the door of the room
from the closet
from the microwave.
We are confused:
close at once, open at once!
it may rain, dust or ants may enter
who knows even worse
we can break down, let's break down
this position here is not good for us
stand still in a gesture
which was to be transitory and brief.
Imagine if you had one foot in the air
when to take a step
and freeze there, imagine.
Decide if you want the light
if you do not want
if it's cold or hot
What you want
if what's inside
must come out,
decides

 

This is the pointThis
more than this; ours is the tremor.
This is the point, an astonishment
analogous to when they warn: Here passes
the Tropic of Capricorn,
Brazil ends here,
Here ends Poland etc.
Here, right here,
you don't see it, but you don't doubt it
of the utterance one would say sacred,
coming from a god of thresholds.
Like a sun he radiates,
how a king decides
history, fate —

here
you can breathe, here we can get married,
not fascism here
stick your nose.
Behold, we have become nothing,
our shadow stayed on the other side.
Cornered by the advancing enemy,
someone always takes their own life.
Now we will know what life is.

For just as I tremble if I know myself well
over the meridian or the boundary,
this is where I stand,
the turning point,
of intellection, the earth in sight
of a problem and its outline.
Ah the real, real problem —
what a rare thrill if we find it.

 

The survivors

Among them, a newcomer to tragedy —
with all the appearance of coming from a higher class —
is observed with a certain superiority,
but this one is for those who still have energy,
and few have it.
The feet bring like a halo of leaves,
a macabre souvenir —
they have the air of a conscious Lazarus
of having climbed the realm of death.
Survivors turn their pants pocket inside out
and twist it with a certain gusto:
that's when you see the water of dark land
and wonder where they might have come from.
They bring a little hell with them,
a bit of your first catastrophe
on this long staggered adventure
— Hello, you, who plays with a bunch of keys in your hand —
Do the doors they were made for still exist?
— At the moment I don't care much about doors. They were
under a child's cap, the cap
without the child, I mean.
I couldn't leave these keys there. I felt it would be
how to abandon orphans.

The hands, wrinkled with water,
seem strangely excited
although the gestures are more than restricted
of a body now.
They lost the shame of not knowing how to speak
each other's language, await
administrative direction.
“Ration to those who lost their nation”,
says to himself one of them, very young,
with intelligent bitterness.
Between hell and purgatory,
next to a wall, or a fence, or an abstraction
any but watchful,
are in a row, squatting, holding children in their laps —
many scream with no consolation in sight, which increases
general fatigue.
Only rumors have the power
to make the physiognomies more expressive.
Rumors always run, and run free,
usually blown by border guards.
“It will open in 3 days,”
“It will be open for three hours,
after which it will close forever,”
"We will be sent back tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow they will bring shipments of Haitians."
Etc. etc.

Where will we get water from?
Where do we throw the ones that don't survive
your survival?
Where will we defecate?
A principle that I do not give up:
the holes — pit, ditch, well —
can't be the same
not be too close.
It's not because we got where we got
that this will not be considered,
three holes and our dignity.
This here is no Auschwitz,
although we are all in the same boat,
that never ends up turning
(like Géricault's ferry, he adds
on account and intimately).

*Priscila Figueiredo is a professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Matthew (poems) (well i saw you).

 

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