Through radar, the Americans made contact with the moon, which of course is exciting. But the most important event of the week happened with my cornstalk.
In my backyard, in a pile of dirt the gardener gathered, something was born that might have been just plain grass—but that I discovered was a cornstalk. I transplanted it to the narrow flowerbed in front of the house. The small leaves were dried out; I thought it was dead. But it revived. When it was the size of a palm, I showed a friend and he declared disdainfully that it was actually grass. When it was the size of two palms, I showed another friend, and he confirmed that it was sugar cane.
The sea was unfurling bolts of cotton on the beach.
But now, at least in this cove, the sea is muddy. The waves sprawling on the sand, under the spotlight of an intense sun, exhibit a strange hue—a corrupt, corrosive red that might be called ocher, as if the sea, in its incessant flow, had passed through steep, muddy ravines before subsiding here, and dislodged clumps of earth that dissolved to contaminate green water, bluish water.
To Marielle Franco, city councillor, sociologist, and activist in Black and LGBTQI+ movements, who was assassinated along with her driver Anderson Gomes in Estácio in the middle of Rio de Janeiro on March 14, 2018. Those who ordered the crime have not yet been brought to justice.
We are full of bullets from AKs in our heads and in our necks
With stray slugs that enter our bones our backs
We are in the Ecstasy neighborhood
But not dying of love
As part of this fall’s Lusosphere portfolio, we’re publishing accompanying work online. This translation feature highlights the work of two Brazilian poets, Eliane Marques and Leonardo Tonus. Work appears in both the original Portuguese and in English.
In Itaparica, the beach broods
under ruddy sky. Two fishermen
and I search waves spitting
shells: ribbed green, a crown
for a queen; a conch; an obelisk;
a whorled shell; a thin swell
pink modica of a disc.
The moment I succumbed to life in the suburbs for the duration of our two-year stay, my husband’s employers offered us an apartment in the middle of Salvador. We promptly packed our twelve suitcases and moved to Barra, a neighborhood on the peninsula between the Bay of All Saints and the Atlantic Ocean. Again, the steep hills and winding sidewalks dotted by sprawling almond trees evoked in me an eerie familiarity. The main bedroom’s built-in wooden closet smelled musty, old-world, and opening its doors never failed to conjure up my grandmother.
My family and I recently relocated to Brazil, the motherland I left over twenty years ago. Our reasons for moving were whimsical, devised in the middle of a torturous Wisconsin winter: the lure of adventure, the tropical climate and, our one practical excuse, the opportunity for my husband and daughter to master Portuguese – a language I considered my own.