from Monodrama

Carlito Azevedo

Two Foreigners


          If you say light
          you say passage of time

          I read this in the book by the Russian

          about Dutch

          and now I repeat that
          to myself

          as I watch
          the rain pour down

          outside the hotel
          where I work

          a spiritual activity
          no doubt

          If you say light you say
          this lowering of the eyelashes

          when you appear in front of me like that

          and your great drama
          in telling me how hard it was to get a taxi

          shuffling the already well mixed contours
          of sexual tautology

          with marked

          of the form of your mouth
          the smell of your hair

          If you say light
          you say the bottom of the sea

          the philosopher warns me against
          a rigour borne

          of application of schematic
          and rigid ideas

          rather than following the curved
          and fluid contours of reality

          the post-it note reminds me that I must make up
          a slogan for the new brand of ketchup

          in a weekend
          to increase my income

          and what if a cloud of matter

          into one
          of antimatter?

         You: that’s why amnesia doesn’t exist
         you: that’s why the sun is a tautology

         I woke up to the bandleader’s voice
         saying: “Hirohito!”

         If you say light
         you say algae you say cyanobacteria

         if you say light
         you say impression of space

         you say: a lake at night
         twinkling for no-one

         in a single movement my glance
         embraces the eyes of the sad mountaineer

         and diagnoses
         check-in panic

         her feet have walked
         in more places than mine

         but her heart makes a point
         of sharing them with me

         at least in my dream, mr. rabbit,
         in my birthday dream

        I recall but don’t say
        something by Gombrowicz

        about invisible clouds
        or about summers in the Steppe

        far from here
        while I look at my watch

        somebody comes and goes
        along the side of a muddy river

        far from here
        in the intermediary world of Carioca street

        someone might like to hear
        me say that in order to be visible

        a body must emit

        far from here
        I have friends who love me

        and my poems
        and who think about me every day

        Far from here
        someone carries desperate people in a chalana boat

        someone studies superconductor

        someone realises they didn’t
        become a genius at the piano

        there must be someone who cries
        when their friend reads them

        a poem by
        their favourite poet

        the two of them will order one more coffee
        and say goodbye to each other under the awning

        they congratulate themselves for having taken the cold-blooded
        decision never to fall in love with each other

        she runs a block back to her house
        under the rain

        he jumps into
        a crowded bus

        even I find myself moved by the things
        going on

        my birthday

B)      HER

          “This light, you know, I detest this light”
          I was driving but I looked towards where
          She was pointing

          The cliff
          The lead grey water
          The sky full of prisms

          “I think this place is so horrible

          And I really don’t know what to say
          About all these people asking
          The whole time ‘what do you do?’
          ‘Where do you live?’

           It’s just so obscene
           Next they’ll want to know
           How much I earn”

           In silence I thought:
           You’re right!

           Instead of this
           I asked if she wanted something to eat
           Before the walk up the mountain

           “And I also hate the way they treat
           The children round here
           As if it was obligatory to buy
           Their love
           Don’t forget this when
           You start to detest me”

           And she smiled

           “Surely at least God will note all this down in my liber vitae


           And when on the next bend
           Out of the cold shadow of the mountain
           Came an almost magic mist
           She wound down the window and screamed at it:

           “And I will not admit any mitigation do you understand me master of the armies”


           “That stupid carabiniere
           Was actually thinking he would get to fuck me
           And me almost puking up just looking at his face

           Thanks for staying by my side the whole time

           You know
           Your country isn’t much worse than mine
           It’s just more stupid and sentimental
           That’s why I hate even its voices”


           After thinking for a while
           And lighting a cigarette
           And staying silent:

           “Chris always says that being an immigrant
           Is not a question of distance
           However large it may be

           But something involving
           A border
           Looking death in the face
           And recognising its power”

           In Africa I noticed an immense dignity
           That I can’t see here
           Could it be that the Portuguese language is averse to this?
           Or did you in fact become
           An idiotically rich country?”


           In a restaurant by the side of the road
           She said she would only ever come back here
           for me

           “And for Rafael”
           She quickly corrected herself
           “And for this magnificent broccoli rice”
           She said after taking the fork to her mouth

           And she smiled

           And that was the second time

translated from the Portuguese by Sarah Rebecca Kersley