Two Poems

Some Propositions with Children

 

The child is completely immersed in childhood
the child doesn’t know what to do with childhood
the child coincides with childhood
the child lets childhood invade him like sleep
his head falls and he’s adrift on childhood
a child plunges into childhood as into the sea
childhood is the element of the child as water
is the proper element of the fish
the child doesn’t know he belongs to the earth
the wisdom of the child is not knowing he will die
the child dies in adolescence
If you were a child tell me the color of your country
I will tell you mine was the color of my bib
and was the size of a piece of chalk
At that time everything was happening for the first time
Even today I carry in my nose those smells
Lord that my life may allow for childhood
though I never again know how to speak of it

 

 

 

Changing the Subject

 

In the winter we enter a long tunnel
Night grows like the edge of the tide
on a morning of sea and fog

I will never know who passed down the corridor
I stretch out my hand to you above these centuries agrippa d’aubigné
If I could luther do something for you
That’s how I remember the many chairs on which I´ve sat
and all those things which I’ve forgotten
Did someone once through the café window
notice me and wish to be the one I am
could Matisse have painted Dance II
could someone have read the trilogy of the boats
“That is how I returned to France”
To where did you really return Erasmus?
I am as much in my old age as in these days
I’ve bought my sleep in pills at the pharmacy
I swear I’ve never seen the invincible explosion of leaves
And I weep for what has passed just because of what I was
I won´t give up my death I really want to die
to take on once and for all what is taking me
and begin to forget in purest astonishment
Don´t ask me who I am
in this moment in which I remember and write

Does the Mediterranean sea of summer
bathe now some part of me?
Are they water skiing in sesimbra towards evening
or in vila de conde on a certain morning?
And a pair of blue eyes on the train to versailles?
And what to do now with these hands
with this face that shows its years?
We are entering into winter. What day is it?
I have a large amount of published works
and a death that I am working on

 

 

Ruy Belo, who died prematurely in 1978, published eleven collections of poetry, four collections of critical writings, and numerous translations of writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Blaise Cendrars, Garcia Lorca, and Saint-Exupery. His work has appeared in over thirty anthologies in Portugal, as well as in collections published in France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Germany, Sweden, Latvia, Bulgaria, Holland, Mexico, and, of course, Brazil. Some of my recent translations of his work have appeared in American Poetry Review, Catamaran, International Poetry Review, Lake Effect, Metamorphoses, Mid-American Review, New Letters, Per Contra, Rosebud, and Saranac Review.

 

Alexis Levitin’s translations have appeared in well over two hundred literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Bitter Oleander, Grand Street, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, New Letters, New Orleans Review, Partisan Review, and Prairie Schooner. His forty books include Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugenio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words (both from New Directions). More recent books include Ana Minga’s Tobacco Dogs (Bitter Oleander Press, 2013), Salgado Maranhao’s Tiger Fur (White Pine Press, 2015), Santiago Vizcaino’s Destruction in the Afternoon (Dialogos Books, 2015), Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen’s Exemplary Tales (Tagus Press, 2015), and Rosa Alice Branco’s Cattle of the Lord (Milkweed Editions, 2016).

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