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Poetry

Coral Reef

By Micheliny Verunschk
Translated from Portuguese by Eric M. B. Becker
Listen to Micheliny Verunschk read "Coral Reef" in the original Brazilian Portuguese.
 
 

Imaginary distances
part from this spot,
mirages which tell
of the true distances between us.
A man planted
in front of the window
is a ghost of himself
suspended by improbable
lines and colors.
We are him
and he is all of us
as if we were
yet
the city
around him.
We are him
and his slumped shoulders.
We are him
and his face gnawed by fish.
We are him
and the narrow streets
that cut across him
and stick through him
like poles
shackles
and other senseless forms of nostalgia
(like all forms of nostalgia).
A statue
observes
the constellation of waters.
Its grey clothing
stirs
and, for a moment, slips on
the river’s bare skin.
The man stirs, too,
and with him the
city stitched
into our skin.
Everything fits on a stamp
or in a single drag on a cigarette.
Everything fits in the green
nearest to white.
Everything clamors:
an hour hand gone berserk.
We are real
and we are nothing.
And this is everything.

© Micheliny Verunschk. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Eric M. B. Becker. All rights reserved.

English Portuguese

Imaginary distances
part from this spot,
mirages which tell
of the true distances between us.
A man planted
in front of the window
is a ghost of himself
suspended by improbable
lines and colors.
We are him
and he is all of us
as if we were
yet
the city
around him.
We are him
and his slumped shoulders.
We are him
and his face gnawed by fish.
We are him
and the narrow streets
that cut across him
and stick through him
like poles
shackles
and other senseless forms of nostalgia
(like all forms of nostalgia).
A statue
observes
the constellation of waters.
Its grey clothing
stirs
and, for a moment, slips on
the river’s bare skin.
The man stirs, too,
and with him the
city stitched
into our skin.
Everything fits on a stamp
or in a single drag on a cigarette.
Everything fits in the green
nearest to white.
Everything clamors:
an hour hand gone berserk.
We are real
and we are nothing.
And this is everything.

© Micheliny Verunschk. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Eric M. B. Becker. All rights reserved.

Arrecife

Desse  ponto
partem  distâncias  imaginárias
que  contam
das  reais  distâncias  entre  nós.
Um  homem  posto
à  frente  de  uma  janela
é  o  fantasma  de  si  mesmo
suspenso  por  linhas
e  cores  improváveis.
Somos  ele
e  ele  é  todos  nós
como  se  não  fôssemos
(ainda)
a  cidade
em  seu  entorno.
Somos  ele
e  seus  ombros  caídos.
Somos  ele
e  seu  rosto  roído  pelos  peixes.
Somos  ele
e  as  ruas  estreitas
que  o  cortam
e  que  nele  se  impalam
como  postes
travas
e  outras  saudades  sem  sentido
(como  qualquer  outra  saudade).
Uma  estátua
observa
a  constelação  das  águas.
Sua  roupa  cinza
se  agita
e  veste  por  um  instante
a  pele  nua  do  rio.
O  homem  se  agita  e  com  ele
a  cidade  costurada
em  nossas  carnes.
Tudo  cabe  num  selo
ou  num  trago  de  cigarro.
Tudo  cabe  no  verde
mais  próximo  do  branco.
Tudo  brada:
relógio  ensadecido.
Somos  o  real
e  nada  somos.
E  isso  é  tudo.

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