Nothing happens

Image: Mira Schendel, Untitled, 1965.


seven poems

The sky darkened before its time,
between the araucaria and the spring I waited
without fear, but so tired,
by the beckoning of the beloved;
the bag of apples weighed while the trees
proudly shook their hair:
our house is fixed, and yours? it's been hours,
girl, we see you making mistakes around here;
the road is steady and no drift but its mess
you make her dizzy, you make her dizzy —
who is lost is lost forever.

It's late, and I'm not in a hurry;
It's late, I always tell myself, but nothing happens:
I do not move a spade, the most available of servants —
she doesn't scold me, but mild and attentive awaits me
snatch it, as if the messiah or a good fairy
would at some point appear.
But it's still too late,
the time before passed and that was long ago;
it has not progressed for a long time, clot
of pain and image, that no clock hands

Passing by an evangelical temple
what goes on inside
come hit the ear
of those outside,
we the scattered sheep
that the modesty of a shepherd
I could never get together
and then they call us
by the microphone.
So many times it is said "demon"
that my ear awakens and asks:
how can it be shouted
such a soft word?
This "monium" is so pleasant,
I wanted to hear it quietly...

The theater of exorcism raises the canvas,
the director is on the scene, but the actor
he is a false actor, he despairs and cries.
I don't remember seeing
so next to each other the cabotino
and the devoid of artifice.

electrically magnified,
ancient and imperious phrases
from Tobias to Paul —
but it's the blood of Jesus
that soothes between demanding tithes
the disinherited of Brazil.

Never heard
a rustling dress,
the leaves, yes –
is what I hear now,
I put it on
all my attention
until you can tell if your murmur
it is joy or dread.
the arms spread
chest with the wind
seem to come from a trunk
what a swing.

Behold, the alarm approaches
obsidian and imperative,
pecking on the nerves
by the pressing hour
(because it's almost always
someone who is going to die
be the white wagon
black or red):
It's now, it's now, it's now!
Like a soundless flashback
the tree beckons, old mother
half crooked, full of skin.

The wheel of paddles moves the air from top to bottom,
it would be so easy to behead me;
archaic slaves, wave their fans over me,
I choreograph: “more, now more, not so much,
otherwise I’ll catch a cold.”
More likely to be a galley, rowing to the beat
from my remote harness.

They work so fast that they save me from seeing
how much trickles of blood flow from their backs;
they can be in the air, they can be in the water,
I know that nothing is easy for them,
their diligence is the same as that of mythical dwarves —
how much they break and push inside the Earth
I do not see,
from there they just leave
to guard my sleep. Must
to be tired, they must be dead;
soon, due to an oversight, they will drop
my bed of glass, your lighter load.

comes as an eviction order
giving merciless blows

rushes without warning
cold and dictatorial
confusing agendas, separating lovers

plucking the wig from the trees

you come to humiliate
dark van
you keep me from thinking

Under the overbearing noise
what we say
is without future

Short pants[ii]
It was raining a lot, but that still hadn't been able to wake up João Crisóstomo, until they started knocking on the door of his hut and it didn't seem to be raining. Then he woke up, he must have put on some sandals and, rubbing his sleepy eyes, he opened it slowly, but all he saw was the river, shaking a lot with the rain and the wind. Little fingers touched her ankle – hey, I'm here! – it was a tiny boy, whom he lifted with one hand after bending down and, finding it very natural for him to speak, was surprised, however, that he came at that time to wake him up. He didn't know him, but the little boy seemed very comfortable with him and asked him, in a tone that didn't seem to doubt that he would be answered, to lead him to the other side of the river. Chrysostom was one of the last giants on Earth, he was strong-willed, and although he thought the task would be easy, he still found the request unnecessarily anxious, as well as annoying – everything is always yesterday! The little boy insisted with his eyes and, seeing no reaction from him, began to turn his foot to turn around and go his way. Wait!, said Crisóstomo, don't you want to sleep here a little and I'll take you tomorrow? There's a corner on my bed. The little boy shook his head and added that he was in a hurry, because the whole world was waiting for him, and waiting for him in the rain – it would be very annoying to make him wait any longer. Well, he thought to himself, this is all a bit unpleasant, but the job will be easy; and if I do this job now, I'm already meeting the goal for the day. Chrysostom then took his coat and put the child on his shoulders, heading to the river, which he soon began to cross. We all know what happened: I feel like I have the world on my shoulders! Oh you carry who made you, nothing more, nothing less. The world is waiting for me, but it would weigh much, much more than me, believe me, and thank you for carrying me. When he had completed the crossing, Chrysostom then laid him down on the ground, where he sat down to rest a while, for he was exhausted as ever. It hadn't been the easy job he'd imagined, especially at that hour and without eating. The load this time was infinitely greater than normal, which made him feel a bit cheated, as at first it had seemed minimal; he also thought, almost resignedly, that this kind of deception would be common from now on, if not worse.

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


[I]    Poem from January 2016, published on a plaque by Espectro Editorial (Juiz de Fora, 2016).

[ii]   Based on the medieval legend of Saint John Chrysostom.

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