Household Chores

Ricardo Domeneck

Now it is our work to say that there shall be
a reburgeoning of lemongrass, boldo, and mint
for the kidneys, livers, intestines of the family
now half-dead, though salt be sown on the earth
of orchards taken over by the lender,
and say it in rhythms proper to the lullaby.

And that grandmother’s hands will break the necks
of chickens in the yard for pirão to feed
for days the women in post-partum rest
whose births repay the family for its wakes,
even if there remain of those wrinkles only carpals
and metacarpals calcium-white in the family plot.

And that dead grandfather will return in dream
and rail until the flag of the nation change color
against these denatured ones who never cease
to raise disgust in those before who crossed
the ocean to misfortune much more profound
than a change of passport and background vegetation.

And it is our work to say that grandparents kidnapped
overseas shall manumit themselves in our bodies
and that our ancestors on this side of the Atlantic
shall retake their share of black soil and together
amid the mint, boldo, and lemongrass, pass hand
to hand the cup of health that passed us over.

translated from the Portuguese by Chris Daniels