Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Night of Calunga in the Bairro Cabula

Translated from Portuguese by Dan Hanrahan

I died how many times
in the longest night?

In the motionless night,
heavy and long,

I died how many times
on the night of calunga?

The night does not end
and here I am

dying again
nameless and again

dying with each
hole opened

in the musculature
of the person I once was.

I died how many times
in the bleeding bruised night?

In the night of calunga
so long and so heavy,

I died how many times
on that terrible night?

The night most death
and there I was

dying again
voiceless and again

dying with each
bullet lodged

in the deepest depths
of what I remain

(and with each silence
of stone and mortar

that sheds the white
of your indifference

onto the shadow
of what I no longer am

and never will be again).
I died how many times

in the night of calunga?
In the brackish night,

night without end,
the oceanic night, all

emptied of blood,
I died how many times

in the terrible night
the night of calunga

in the Bairro Cabula?
I’ve died so many times

but they never kill me
once and for all.

My blood is a seed
that the wind roots

in the belly of the earth
and I am born again

and again and my name
is that which does not die

before making the night
no longer the silent

partner of death
but the mother that births

children the color of night
and watches over them

as a panther
who shows, in the light

of her gaze and in
the sharpness of her teeth,

just what she will do
if the hand of evil

even imagines
troubling the sleep

of her cub.
I’ve died so many times 

but I am always
reborn stronger

brave and beautiful—
all I know is to be.

I am many, I extend
across the world

and across time inside
me and I am so many

one day I will make
life live.

Credit


Originally published in the December 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © Ricardo Aleixo. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Dan Hanrahan. All rights reserved.

Author


Ricardo Aleixo

Ricardo Aleixo was born in 1960 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

 

Date Published: 2018-12-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/night-calunga-bairro-cabula