Translated by Idra Novey and Flávia Rocha
from Issue 20: Landmarks
“AND THE GARDEN SUDDENLY
ROCKED WITH A CRY OF CICADAS”
In the garden, the click of cicadas:
this is our last existence:
as stream or weed
without the recollection of someone else’s
voices cross the air without the gift
of being heard.
“A GATHERED LAKE OF AQUAMARINE
BEGINS TO SMOKE”
Steaming, the lake is not at home:
we’re awake, but go on doubting.
Grey, blue, grey, blue. Listen—
insect wings flicker in the fog: the water
pours on to another place.
“SHARPER THAN EVER THE AIR
REMAINING: YOU MUST BREATHE”
The air comes sharp: we have to breathe.
Molds of plants everywhere:
almost plants, mute, fresh,
sneaking there—nearly a nest.
The ground raked
and nobody to find us.
“AND A BOUQUET IN DISARRAY
BURNS THE WAVES’ CRESTS”
Everything spread, nothing left to be found:
long night, white route, extinction
of everything we’ve lived: flamed
flowers float on the waves.
The bird placed on the table
remains in its place, confused by the sea breeze
blowing in from the window.
“SUN DESTROYS THE INTEREST OF
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE SHADE”
The sun at noon, dogs
under the tree shade: heat evaporates
freshness from the leaves, which seem
to say something.
In the interval between dreams, without radiance,
the dogs age, and the leaves.
“THE SUN IS SET. THE TREES
MEDITATE LIKE STATUES”
—Federico García Lorca
Within tonight’s suspended tone
a thirst for aromas,
thirst for laughter shaking
the arrow-like grass—
hands mimicking roots
assume the idea of permanence.
“WHAT WE MUST FORGET IS
THE DAY HEAVY WITH ACTS”
A yellow flower takes flight—
its flight impossible
In this ex-human night
I too dreamt of a multicolor bridge
pinned across the air.
Brief presage of your return.
“INSIDE US, THEN, NO VOICE
A tree abandoned in the suburbs,
without horror or excitement:
Trunk, branch, nest,
wind cracking leaves, and the silent
twilight, its divine indifference.
“TIME IS TERRIFIED OF CLOCKS”
The cloud fills with seeds, Fall,
with coming back, hope on the table:
the unconscious tree craves for madness
to remember, to insist, to go and forgive?
Fall stuffs itself with Fall:
why do we die so much?
Flávia Rocha is a Brazilian poet, editor, and journalist. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and is the author of two poetry books, both published in Brazil, the bilingual A Casa Azul ao Meio-dia/ The Blue House Around Noon (Travessa dos Editores, 2005) and Quartos Habitáveis (Confraria do Vento, 2011). She is the editor-in-chief of Rattapallax, a literary journal based out of New York City featuring contemporary American and International poetry. Her translations from English into Portuguese of contemporary poetry often appear in literary magazines in Brazil. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and two young daughters.
Idra Novey is the author of Exit, Civilian, a 2011 National Poetry Series Selection, and The Next Country, a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award in poetry. She’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the PEN Translation Fund. Her translations include several collections of Brazilian poetry and Viscount Lazcano Tegui’s novel On Elegance While Sleeping, shortlisted for the 2010 Best Translated Book Award. Her most recent translation is Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H., recently published by New Directions and forthcoming from Penguin UK.
Flávia Rocha, Quartos Habitáveis. Rio de Janeiro: Confraria do Vento, 2011.