Translated from Portuguese by John Keene I won’t wash the dishes anymore Or dust the furniture I’m sorry I’ve begun to read The other day I opened a book and a week later I decided I won’t carry the trash out to the trash bin Or clean up the mess of leaves falling in the yard I’m sorry After reading I noticed each dish has its own aesthetic, an aesthetic of traces, of ethics, of static I look at my hands as they flip the books’ pages Hands much softer than they were before I feel that I can start to be all the time I feel. If something happens I am not going to wash anymore. Nor bring your rugs in for dry cleaning My eyes grow teary I’m sorry Now that I’ve begun to read I want to understand, why, why? And why things exist I read and I read and I read I even smiled And left the beans to burn. . . See, the beans always take time to cook Let’s just say things are different now. . . . Ah, I forgot to say I won’t do it any more I‘ve resolved to have some time for myself I’ve resolved to read about what's going on between us Don’t wait for me Don’t call for me I won’t be going From everything I’ve ever read, from everything I understand It was you who went Went too far, for too long, past the alphabet It had to be spelled out for you I won’t wash things to cover up the true filth Or dust things clean and scatter the dust from here to there and from there to here I’ll disinfect my hands and avoid your moving parts I won’t touch alcohol After so many years literate I’ve learned to read After so much time together I’ve learned to make a break My sneaker from your shoe My drawer from your ties My perfume from your scent My canvas from your frame That’s how it is, I’m not washing a thing anymore And I stare at the filth at the bottom of the glass The moment always arrives of shaking things up, of moving forward, of making sense of things I do not wash dishes anymore I read the signature on my Emancipation Proclamation in black capital letters, size 18, double-spaced I set myself free I do not wash dishes anymore I want silver platters Deluxe kitchens And gold jewelry The real kind So is the Emancipation Proclamation decreed
Originally published in the December 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Cristiane Sobral. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by John Keene. All rights reserved.