They are like a crystal,
Some a dagger,
some a blaze.
Secret they come, full of memory.
Insecurely they sail:
cockleboats or kisses,
the waters trembling.
They are woven of light.
They are the night.
And even pallid
they recall green paradise.
Who hears them? Who
gathers them, thus,
in their pure shells?
Translation: 1985, Alexis Levitin, Inhabited Heart
Perivale Press, Los Angeles, 1985
São como um cristal,
Algumas, um punhal,
Secretas vêm, cheias de memória.
barcos ou beijos,
as águas estremecem.
Tecidas são de luz
e são a noite.
E mesmo pálidas
verdes paraísos lembram ainda.
Quem as escuta? Quem
as recolhe, assim,
nas suas conchas puras?
Eugénio de Andrade, Coração do Dia
Limiar, Porto, 1958
Photo: Point Omega by Don Delillo (sometimes I’m too lazy to take notes)
The souls that throng the flood
Are those to whom, by fate, are other bodies ow’d:
In Lethe’s lake they long oblivion taste,
Of future life secure, forgetful of the past.
Photo: Ponte de Lima (2017) I have spent a lot of happy and not so happy days in this place during my childhood and teenage years. A village which is known for a legend of forgetfulness has helped me to know a little bit more of who I am.
The Aeneid by Virgil
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.
O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimful of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago!
Echo, Christina Rossetti
Photo: Leça da Palmeira, after the storm (March 2018)
This is not a good photo. I couldn’t get out of the car and attempt a proper photo, the letter box stands right by a traffic light and words on walls and urban equipments tend to vanish quickly, so you get them when you spot them.
Pause and reflect on the [your / mine] path
That’s how it reads to me. That’s what’s lacking, the time to stop and try to see the direction.
Hoje de manhã saí muito cedo,
Hoje de manhã saí muito cedo,
Por ter acordado ainda mais cedo
E não ter nada que quisesse fazer…
Não sabia por caminho tomar
Mas o vento soprava forte, varria para um lado,
E segui o caminho para onde o vento me soprava nas costas.
Assim tem sido sempre a minha vida, e
Assim quero que possa ser sempre —
Vou onde o vento me leva e não me
“Poemas Inconjuntos”. In Poemas de Alberto Caeiro. Fernando Pessoa.
I went out very early in the morning today
Because I woke up even earlier
And there was nothing I wanted to do…
I didn’t know which road to take
But the wind rose strong, sweeping up from one side,
And I followed the road where the wind pushed at my back.
That’s how my life has always been, and
That’s how I’d like to be able to have it always be —
I go where the wind leads me
And don’t feel like thinking.
Photo: Afurada on a perfect Saturday morning
And the World is different. And it’s summer in February even though it’s still the Northern Hemisphere.
Photo: last Sunday, somewhere in Gondomar
Quiero que sepas
Tú sabes cómo es esto:
la luna de cristal, la rama roja
del lento otoño en mi ventana,
junto al fuego
la impalpable ceniza
o el arrugado cuerpo de la leña,
todo me lleva a ti,
como si todo lo que existe,
aromas, luz, metales,
fueran pequeños barcos que navegan
hacia las islas tuyas que me aguardan.
si poco a poco dejas de quererme
dejaré de quererte poco a poco.
Si de pronto
no me busques,
que ya te habré olvidado.
Si consideras largo y loco
el viento de banderas
que pasa por mi vida
y te decides
a dejarme a la orilla
del corazón en que tengo raíces,
que en ese día,
a esa hora
levantaré los brazos
y saldrán mis raíces
a buscar otra tierra.
si cada día,
sientes que a mí estás destinada
con dulzura implacable.
Si cada día sube
una flor a tus labios a buscarme,
ay amor mío, ay mía,
en mí todo ese fuego se repite,
en mí nada se apaga ni se olvida,
mi amor se nutre de tu amor, amada,
y mientras vivas estará en tus brazos
sin salir de los míos.
Si tu me olvidas, Pablo Neruda
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
Photo: Wall poetry on the streets of Porto
Be all this.
Be this touch with all the skin that can comfort you
Here’s your Mom, here’s your Dad.
Welcome to being their flesh and blood.
Why do you look so sad?
Here’s your food, here’s your drink.
Also some thoughts, if you care to think.
Welcome to everything.
Here’s your practically clean slate.
Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.
Welcome at any rate.
Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.
Money is nature’s fifth element.
Welcome to every cent.
Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.
Welcome to that there’s roughly five
billion like you alive.
Welcome to the phone book that stars your name
Digits are democracy’s secret aim.
Welcome to your claim to fame.
Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.
Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.
Welcome to it; up yours.
Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.
Welcome to playing your own terrorist;
call this your Middle East.
Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.
Here’s an octopus in your dream.
Why do you try to scream?
Here’s your corn-cob, your TV set.
Your candidate suffering an upset.
Welcome to what he said.
Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.
Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.
Welcome to its alibi.
Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,
the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.
Welcome to infinity.
Here are your pills on the plastic tray,
Your disappointing, crisp X-ray.
You are welcome to pray.
Here’s your cemetery, a well kept glen.
Welcome to a voice that says, “Amen.”
The end of the rope, old man.
Here’s your will, and here’s a few
takers. Here’s an empty pew.
Here’s life after you.
And here are your stars which appear still keen
on shining as though you had never been.
They might have a point, old bean.
Here’s your afterlife, with no trace
of you, especially of your face.
Welcome, and call it space.
Welcome to where one cannot breathe.
This way, space resembles what’s underneath
and Saturn holds the wreath.
Enjoying Porto’s sunsets and making Monday’s poetry late again.
“When I die I will return to seek
The moments I did not live by the sea.”
Sophia De Mello Breyner
Selected Poems, translated by Richard Zenith, Carcanet Press, 1997.
even though I feel at home in most places I travel to, even though I can’t wait to leave, even though it now looks mostly as a theme park, I sometimes can’t help but feel that Porto belongs to me because I belong to it.