THAT LIGHTHOUSE

 

She smoothed out

Forest, mountain, train,

Rain and boat.

She passed and passed.

Though, no guts to cross the moat:

Lighthouse sickbay reclaimed her.

 

Instead, she holed up.

Home became burrow and den.

Squinted eyes befell the ditch,

Where her shivers had lived.

 

She disregarded gloom

And scorned doom.

When sadness came,

She played the zither by the lake.

 

Her sake:

 The haven she quarried.

 

Woman, she passed

Flows of menses and hurt.

Frustration, confinement,

And stigma in numb lumps

That crooked left foot.

 

She feared the ogle of strangers.

Though, she smoothed it out.

And she stayed.

She passed

Through barbed wires

Of an uneaten passion.

She dodged the lighthouse phantom.

 

She had weaved a cloak:

Invisible, she became.

 

Yet she stayed.

O OURIVES, FRAU JUNGFREUND E A CAIXA

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Talvez vocês não lembrem, ou ainda não tenham lido, a história da foto do 1º aninho do Vovô Antonio. Tentarei resumir. Foi num dia quente , início de fevereiro, que Frau Jungfreund aproveitou a chegada de um fotógrafo da capital para perpetuar a imagem de seu filho caçula. Após a sesta, à tarde, banhou o menino e vestiu-o. Aprumou-se, com esmero, colocou o menino no carrinho alto e lá se foi.

O estúdio  ficava junto à melhor joalheria da cidadezinha e bem perto do casarão dos Jungfreund. Entrou na loja e cumprimentou o joalheiro que, naquele exato momento, iniciava o processo de derretimento de duas largas alianças que uma viúva recente  trouxera-lhe para que as derretesse: desejava  que as transformasse  em um par de brincos nada delicado—fora dos padrões da época para senhoras distintas—com pedras coloridas advindas das muitas abotoaduras do falecido. Frau Jungfreund pediu-lhe desculpas por interrompê-lo no delicado trabalho. Explicou que tinha hora marcada com o retratista. O joalheiro , então, confidenciou-lhe que não conseguia entender o que levaria a viúva a derreter o símbolo de uma união sagrada e, ainda por cima, tirá-lo do divino para jogá-lo no vulgar. Pior ainda, a futura dona desses enfeites espalhafatosos estaria, com isso—dizia o pessoal do Clube de Canto—a clamar vingança por traição.  Além disso, encomendara vestidos nada modestos. O ourives expressou sua perplexidade frente a tais atitudes. Naquele momento, o fotógrafo chamou a discreta mamãe e seu bebê  para retratá-lo sobre o falso ninho de cegonhas. Depois de várias tentativas, finalmente, a foto perfeita. O artista prometeu entregá-la em uma semana.

A senhora despediu-se dos dois profissionais. Contudo, levou em sua mente a pergunta: “Por que Grete Funcksnell, a viúva, derreteria as alianças e usaria roupas mundanas?”

No Domingo de Ramos (uma semana antes da Páscoa), após o Culto, houve uma confraternização que culminaria com uma rifa. As mulheres reuniram-se no salão da Casa Paroquial. Havia biscoitinhos. Spriztbier[1], espetinhos de pepino em conserva com queijo colonial, fatias de cuca de uva, dispostos sobre uma mesa com toalha branca de crochê.

As senhoras , em pequenos grupos, seguravam pratinhos e guardanapos enquanto conversavam. Tentavam adivinhar qual seria a rifa: afinal os cartões haviam custado mais do que o preço de dois quilos de açúcar. Frau Jungfreund estava quase certa de que seria uma das famosas tortas da esposa do Pastor, ao passo que outras afirmavam ser um daqueles suportes para folhagens, feitos em madeira trabalhada e com painéis pintados à mão, muito em voga naqueles tempos.Os petiscos estavam prestes a acabar, quando Pfarrer[2] Schulholz tocou a campainha.

“Atenção, prezadas senhoras! Chegou a hora de nossa rifa . A venda dos cartões foi além das previsões e, poderemos alegrar um maior número de famílias com distribuição de roupas, alimentos e brinquedos nessa Páscoa. A nossa congregação agradece a colaboração das firmas comerciais, industrialistas, doadores anônimos, da OASE[3] que preparou os acepipes e montou essa linda mesa. E, agora, menção especial de gratidão à distinta Senhora Witwe[4] Funcksnell pelo objeto que, graciosamente, entregou para nosso sorteio. ”

Muitas palmas soaram no salão. Algumas das presentes queriam saber se a doadora viria para retirar o número do interior da caixa de metal. Frau Pfarrer Schulholz[5] comunicou-as que isso seria impossível : a viúva embarcara, em navio da Costeira para , no Rio de Janeiro, tomar um dos novos transatlânticos que aportaria em Gênova. Naquele momento, deveria estar por águas de Santa Catarina. Calaram-se todos. Nem sequer uma pergunta. Apenas olhares enviesados.

Wilhelmina, mulher do Pastor, tocou a sineta e pediu atenção: o sorteio iniciaria em minutos. Seu esposo já conduzia o professor da Escola Dominical ao tablado, no qual, sobre um parlatório, estava a caixa da sorte. Mine, apelido pelo qual era conhecida, encaminhou-se ao velho harmônio e bateu alguns acordes imponentes numa mistura de Bach e Beethoven (e Mine, claro). A um sinal de seu marido, parou o som e , naquele momento, o velho professor retirou o número , mostrou-o ao Pastor que o leu com solene tensão:

“ Ach! Vejo um dois! Alguém tem um 2 ? ” Muitas sorriam. “Agora , vejo o outro número ! Há entre as presentes alguém com outro algarismo além do 2 ?” Algumas pareciam bem nervosas, ao passo que outras já estavam fora do sorteio. “ E o número é…Mas, o numero é…27! Siebenundswanzig  ! VINTE E SETE!”

Incrédula, Frau Jungfreund abanou sua mão. Encaminhou-se ao tablado e mostrou seu cartão. Era o premiado, conferiram o Pastor e o professor. Chegara a hora de saber do premio embrulhado em papel pardo e resguardado por uma teia de cordinhas.

O professor , com uma tesoura, cortou quase uma centena de barbantes que garantiam segurança ao pacote.

O coro “Abre! Abre! Abre!” ecoava pelo ambiente. Ao retirar o último papel pardo, apareceu uma caixa coberta de veludo carmim, cuja minúscula chave fora pendurada ao fecho dourado por uma esmaecida fita de veludo. “Abre! Abre! Abre!” seguia, nesse momento, bem forte. Tremiam as mãos da contemplada. O professor cortou a fitinha. Ela recebeu, prestes a desmaiar, a chave e  abriu a caixa. Retirou, com dificuldade, um porta joias dourado. Professor, Pastor, Mine e a jovem senhora examinaram o premio. De repente, grita o Pastor, “ A caixa de joias é de ouro, ouro 18 quilates!” As paredes ecoavam  “É de ouro!” misturado ao zumbido das exclamações femininas.

“ É o que se pode ler na tampa da caixa de veludo e na parte inferior do porta joias. Deve valer muitos contos de réis. O que estará guardado nessa maravilha?”

Mine e o professor inspecionaram, bem de perto, o dispendioso objeto.

“Está trancafiado à chave. E não há chave”. O Pastor exclamou, quase aos grityos.

Mine demonstrou sua desilusão: como saberiam se havia, ou não, mais ouro na caixa?

Passava do meio dia, quando decidiram que caberia, apenas, à ganhadora do sorteio–e nova dona da caixa de veludo com o objeto de puro ouro edaquilo que poderia estar guardado dentro dele–resolver o problema da chave inexistente e do mistério da caixa de 18 quilates.

Frau Jungfreund colocou tudo na sacola de crochê que Mine lhe emprestara. Agradeceu a todos e foi para casa.

Sua cabeça pulsava com alegria e , até, certa dose de receio. “ Primeiro o ourives com sua desconfiança com as alianças a derreter, agora, eu—por que eu—recebo esse tesouro de Grete?”

Foto por Mausilinda.

Notas:

[1] Cerveja caseira à base de gengibre, sem álcool.

[2] Pastor . sacerdote.

[3] Organização Auxiliar das Senhoras Evangélicas.

[4] Viúva

[5] a esposa do pastor

TRAILS

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As words, smiles, and affection

Drown into quicksand,

Offer him the light in your eyes

And your sweet hand.

 

If the desert pleases him,

Let storms sting the prickly face

Silence has already spoiled.

Walk on, girl, through the lacy sea:

A fertile ground of dreams, shells, and Luaus.

 

 

VEREDAS

Quando palavras, sorrisos,

Carinho somem em areia movediça,

Oferece–lhe a alegria de teu olhar

E a mão companheira.

 Porém, se lhe agradar o deserto

A fustigar sua cara amarrada , murcha de silêncio,

Segue tua caminhada pelas rendas do mar.

Areias férteis de conchas, ondas e luaus .

 

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Foto by Mausilinda.

EVERYWHERE

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Yes, you say,

I am here.

Why are you there?

Why?

Are you afar

For unloving me?

Are you adrift

After I ‘ve washed away?

Are you mute

As you’ve ever been?

Are you sore?

 I do not care.

You say,

I am here.

Where?

I have crashed, dear,

Into many reefs.

As winds abrade you, 

statue of no grief,

I slash my strings

And voiceless

I crawl away from fear.

Amid stones and salt

I will survive

Here and there.

Everywhere.

Photos by Mausilinda

HE IS THE ONE

 

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He is the genius
whose first green
has been a rainbow
in a wet bough.

He has released a shy typist
to break barriers
and fight dragons behind minute keys.

I cast to trash
templates of time wasted.
I open up drawers
and share chains

of words
with sisters and brothers
of worlds
never ready before.

My fingers tickle soft keys
in messages of sweet breeze
to hush-hush crowds
atop the clouds.

He is the guy.
He has winged my flight.
On the mirror of a screen
I see my face gleam
As he and I rise upstream.

 

Photo by Mausilinda

This poem was written as a tribute to Steve Jobs who, with the first MacIntosh made texting a piece of pie for me and many others.

FREE AT LAST

One day I let him go.
He walked away
Winged out
To places I hated to know

 

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One day I wanted him so
Though he had gone:
That place I’d rather not know

Today I do not care:
I know the place.
His weird nest
Has restored
My butterfly dreams.

 

Photos by Mausilinda

A poem I love

This morning, I came across one of my father’ s old reading books, and there, among other poems, was A Carolina, Machado de Assis’ most well-known sonnet. He wrote it in 1906, two years after his wife for more than thirty years passed away. He seemed unable to find happiness without her and, two years after writing this poem, in 1908, he died. I love his novels. However, his short stories are superb for their plots, language, and for portraying everyday life in diverse social contexts, of the town of Rio de Janeiro in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s.

Why do I love A Carolina? My answer is simple: Love.  It is the representation of the everlasting devotion of a spouse–I do not see him as a widower since she has continued close to him in thoughts and the daily visits to her grave. Machado de Assis tells the world he still loves Carolina. He proclaims his love in a sonnet with its fixed rules and this choice makes his proclamation a lesson of love made publicly and of his intense mastery of language.

The translation I present here has the sole aim of opening a tiny bit the door to Machado de Assis (1839-1908) to those that have never had a chance to get a peek at his writing.

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TO CAROLINA

 

My darling, at the foot of your deathbed

On which you repose from your long life,

I come and always will, hapless dear of mine,

To yield you the companion’s heart.

 

It throbs with that sincere sentiment

That despite all human strife,

Has perked up our existence

And housed in a corner the whole world.

 

I bring you flowers, remains I have plucked

From the soil that has seen us track together

And dead now it leaves us and apart.

 

Today, if l bear in my bruised eyes

Life thoughts I have once dreamed,

These are already gone and terminated.

 

A Carolina

(Original version in Portuguese)

 

Querida, ao pé do leito derradeiro

Em que descansas dessa longa vida,

Aqui venho e virei, pobre querida,

Trazer-te o coração do companheiro.

 

Pulsa-lhe aquele afeto verdadeiro

Que, a despeito de toda a humana lida,

Fez a nossa existência apetecida

E num recanto pôs um mundo inteiro.

 

Trago-te flores,—restos arrancados

Da terra que nos viu passar unidos

E ora mortos nos deixa e separados.

 

Que eu, se tenho nos olhos malferidos

Pensamentos de vida formulados,

São pensamentos idos e vividos.

Photo by Mausilinda

 

A dragon for homework

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The setting here involves a large apartment in a vertical condo facing a calm ocean bay in Flowertown.

Birgit, nine years old, read a story in school about a family of dragons. As a home assignment, she should write an imaginary dialogue with the prehistoric family’s youngest and friendliest member. At least, according to the story and bright illustrations, he was adorable. She wrote about how much she would like meeting him—she thought offensive to use the pronoun it for that sunny character. She started her composition by asking the creature what would make him very happy. His likely answer—placing herself in the dragon’s place—was that eating a large pizza with rich chocolate borders after frolicking in a swimming pool filled to the brim balls with the colors of the rainbow would make him the happiest of all living animals. Then, as she wanted to finish the school task, she closed her dialogue with an invitation to the dragon to visit her home.

The girl went to sleep. Her sister, Eill, was already asleep in the twin bed by the window.

At the break of dawn, Birgit figured that Bella, the family puppy elkhound, might not have water. So, she went to the balcony to check. Bella had plenty to drink and to eat.

She extended her eyes to the bay in front, bathed by moonlight. Then something panicked her. She envisaged a green rock at the top of the small cement wall that set the limit between shoreline and sidewalk, free of the usual joggers and walkers.

The moving green rock that started crossing the highway bewitched the girl. There were no trucks or cars: the traffic light must have been red, she thought.

As the greenish boulder moved closer to view, the girl realized it was not a rock! It could be a dragon. And it seemed to be coming towards her apartment building! She felt relief for she lived on the 10th floor.

Her sister Eill came to the balcony to know what was happening: she had heard Birgit’s sighs and crying. Birgit told her to look carefully at the moving rock. Eill then understood her sister’s tears, sighs, and fear because the unhurried stone was the dragon Brigit had invited to their home in the school assignment. It could not be for real! Homework was nothing but something that had to do with a school obligation and getting a grade.

Birgit was puzzled because it was—her own words—a stupid dialogue she had written for a silly story’s dummy character. Nobody had read it yet. Her homeroom teacher would get it the next day. How come such a made-up conversation had reached the small dragon’s ears?

The girl did not know what to do. Eill teased her sister with a big statement, “Once you have invited him, the creature is your sole responsibility. ” She had to keep her word. The two girls took the elevator and went down to meet the dragon.

However, they stopped at the lobby. The noise from the four-lane-avenue became too intense for such an early hour. Mr. Wilson, the doorperson, told them not to go outside, for there had been a hit-and-run accident with a victim. Birgit fainted. Eill asked him for details. His depiction was vile: the ambulance, which by pure luck was near, started collecting the victim’s pieces but stopped it all at once. The paramedics decided to call Flowertown’s Animal Protection Department to determine what to do with the creature’s remains. The FAPD was at the scene of the crime—Mr. Wilson’s words—to decide. Birgit had recovered though she could not stop crying. He promised the girls he would go outside to bring them fresh news, not before asking them to call their parents. It was only six-fifteen. The sisters, though, did not want them there.

Less than ten minutes went by. Suddenly, Mr. Wilson enters the lobby as if he had to run for life. Mrs. Sombor, the gardener, came with a pitcher filled with water: half of it to wake Birgit from her blackout; the other half to sprinkle Mr. Wilson’s face to prevent his collapse.

When both had gone back to their feet, Mr. Wilson eventually spoke, “Flowertown will make the CNN today! You cannot, not even in your wildest dreams, imagine the story behind the bits and pieces of that victim. I will tell you! It was something like a big fat lizard, though almost tailless. The guy from FAPD would send its remains to the United States to check on its possible species. The man believed it had come from outer space or constituted a specimen that had survived extinction and deserved serious investigation. He said it might be a member of the dinosaur family. “God bless our souls! Who knows? The changes in weather in our world might bring strange things to our lives. Imagine, next, a fire-breathing dragon inhabits our beach! The end is near, I tell you…”

Birgit, very cautiously, dared to ask, “By any means, is there a possibility of the creature be a baby dragon ?”

Mr. Wilson sat on a padded chair. He scratched his bushy eyebrows and then his large ears. He looked through the crystal ornaments hanging from the chandelier and was about to say something. The girls waited for an answer. Mrs. Sombor stared at the man on the chair. She took her cell phone and hit some keys. She walked the girls to the elevator and told them to stay inside their apartment for a long while

Birgit and Eill entered the living room. Not a sound there. Not even Bella was around. Their parents and the puppy were still asleep. Eill checked the time on her phone: it was six-ten.

Illustration by Mausilinda