strong words

Ivor Abrahams, Diptych, 1981


four poems


Sylvia Plath's Tray
How to explain that the woman
before sticking your head in the belly of the oven
leave beside the little children who were sleeping in the room a
tray with some bread and milk?
I haven't checked the files, but I imagine
that when they woke up this
it wasn't warm anymore
while the gas,
soon, no longer lethal, invaded the entire house, now open
for someone had already unlocked the kitchen door —
still arriving late to save Sylvia,
that she no longer wanted to be Lady Lazaro.

A short time later, while one adult comforted the children, another
he should empty the cups in the sink, say to himself “what a demented woman”,
the slices of bread going to waste.

It is almost certain then that they ate nothing, for when
woke up everything was already a long time old,
like the barely displayed, but inedible, food from the shop windows.
However, the image of the maternal gesture, object
wedged forever between the nest and the death chamber,
the rhetorical tray of an artist who knew:
being a mother was impossible, being welcomed even more —
let the daughter and son not forget that.
More disenchanted education there should not have been.


Then the stone was
very hard as it always is
when it lives up to its name.
It was more solid than mine,
that your character; more
hardened than the laws,
rougher than sandpaper than the rich
is usually with the poor.

But then they came, with that
soft water bowl,
the childish murmur
of a light and playful river...

It was so little by little that almost
we forget how it was before everything,
just like when did the stone

ceased to be stone. there is no birthday
if perception does not accuse a
crashing break.


john without arm
Just a blurry look
in your direction
and fast but out of time
without moving anything
beyond the mouth
let go when I left him
the phrase that I
unknowingly escaped:
“Hey auntie, can I have some change?”.
I enjoyed my steps
already ahead and ignored
perfect john without pocket
the interpellation echoing
at a point behind my path
where were two passers-by now

(almost universally
the request, still valid and audible,
could reach the heart
which was not addressed)


three strong words
The first is squad:
wherever it sounds
brings with it death.

brown cinnamon, dark elbow
burn inside paddy wagon,
urn, penumbra — of this nation.

Yes, dumping ground summarize
fetid juice, ground donkey, leftovers
aluminum lunchbox, fetus
no mother.


*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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