Letter from Bia d'Ideal

by Corsino Fortes

               The 19th of the month
               to windward of the souls that know me

Junzin! Even to the people San Vicente
Your name is Vario or T. Thio Thiofe
                  And I, Corsa de David, say
You’ve become a black black Greco-Latin man
                         But really – really

The waves
            already climb
                         the steps of your poem
And inside the guitar of the island
The roofs of Europe
                               break over our heads

Junzin! A long time now
Since you drank the waters
                       Of our thirst
It’s true — it’s true
Years upon years
                       plus five years more, then a day

That the sponge of our hearts has wet the rock
And a conch of milk holds a thread of blood
Oh the pain of a cheerful man!
                              silent pain
                              pain in repose
                              pain cast out
                                                     but pain always

The ache of the viola’s note
Ache of the seed in the earth
Ache of the volcanic heart
                                       but today

I will not say
             merci
             thank you
                          danke schön
                                       Why?

When Djosa
             went out of the door
                          with his shoeshine box

Tanha died by the flag at the gate
With the apple hunger stuck in her mouth


Oh people of the Rua de Craca
Fed

             on fish-broth for 16 tostãos
You all gather to hear
             Patrada’s viola
                                     and
                                     Antonzin’s guitar
Open in the blood of Tanha
             A silence made of many doors
You gather to see
             the ship’s mast
             and
             the ship’s canvas

Torn
             breaking
                           in Tanha’s eyes
                           Why! When Djosa

Opened in the city
             the sun’s open road

Tanha sowed the wind
             with the bitten apple in her mouth

Junzin! Three things
             are bound to my soul
Three rivers for nevermore
             first written on the hand
             then written in the mouth
             then in the blood
on the rock the sun breaks
             the egg of hunger
the wind grinds the stone
             with the flour’s white cry
the people and the people’s hand
             write the longhand sentence in the earth
And a long time ago
             Notcha
                          was already saying
Saint-John Perse notwithstanding
                  That it is not always true
"That the oar will break in the oarsman’s hand"

Greetings from Bibia
                                 Bena
                                       Garda
                                            Vavaia

And all the people of the Rua da Crava

                                                Everybody

The literal translation of this poem was made by Daniel Hahn

The final translated version of the poem is by Sean O'Brien

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