Three poems by Astrid Cabral, translated by Alexis Levitin


Em mim esta indelével tatuagem:
não mera mancha, nódoa em tela ou derme
na alma, porém, em sua oculta carne.
Não com as longínquas tintas do Pacífico
mas com os sombrios tons do que é tragédia.
Há um verde de ramos desmaiados
preto piche de noite desestrelada
um vermelho a pender para o tom roxo:
sangue sustado no fluxo do corpo.
Vê-se uma árvore que se contorce
sob o brutal impacto de um carro
enquanto os deuses arrebatam um jovem.



An indelible tattoo in me:
no simple spot, no stain on cloth or skin
but on the soul, that hidden flesh.
Not made with far Pacific tints
but with the somber tones of tragedy.
            There is a fainting green of branches
the pitch-black blackness of a starless night
            red bleeding into amaranth:
blood suspended in the body’s flux.
            A tree twists
from the brutal impact of a car
as the gods snatch up another youth.





Junto a mim decorreu a tua vida
no curto tempo em que fui tua casa.
Paredes de osso e carne eram guarida
quando no sono o ser desabrochavas.

Do amor à sombra e posto a meu cuidado
em tantas terras e sob tantos tetos
a espalhar alegria em todo lado
preso estavas nas redes de um afeto.

Se de mim te afastavas te seguia
adivinhando aflita a tua trilha
até no emaranhado mapa vê-la

a esperar, a esperar que em algum dia
retornasses, atrás deixando a ilha.
Teu endereço agora é nas estrelas.



In that short time when I was still your home,
inside, attached to me, your life unrolled.
Your sanctuary was of flesh and bone
and there I felt your sleeping soul unfold.

Shaded by my love, given to my care,
beneath so many roofs, in different lands,
you radiated joy, your gift to share,
while caught up in the weave of loving hands.

If you would leave me, I would follow you
guessing, distressed, which way you must have gone,
till in the tangled map your path would clear

while I would wait and wait in hope of news
of you, come back to here where you belong.
Your home is now among the stars and spheres.





No deserto da insônia
a mão, triste, me acena
nua de anéis e luvas.

Dedos gesto de adeus
anunciam o abandono
da matéria efêmera.

Dos campos do sono
a mesma mão me chama
cintilante de estrelas.

Tento alçar-me da cama
no encalço do convite
mas a carne me amarra.

E enquanto o corpo dura
fico entre a dor da perda
e o desejo do encontro.



In the desert of insomnia
the hand, in sadness, waves to me
naked of rings and gloves.

Fingers, a gesture of good-bye,
announce an abandonment
of ephemeral matter.

From fields of sleep
the same hand calls me
sparkling with stars.

I try to rise up from my bed
and follow in a rush that beckoning,
but I am fastened down by flesh.

And as long as body lasts,
I stay pinned between the pain of loss
and a yearned for re-encounter.


Translator: Alexis Levitin has published forty-six books in translation, mostly poetry from Brazil, Portugal, and Ecuador. Recent books include, from Brazil, Salgado Maranhao’s Palavora and Mapping the Tribe and, from Ecuador, Carmen Vascones’ Outrage. Forthcoming in 2021 are Salgado Maranhao’s Consecration of the Wolves and Astrid Cabral’s Gazing Through Water.

You can read Alexis Levitin’s interview with Clara Burghelea here

About the contributor

Astrid Cabral
Astrid Cabral, a leading poet and environmentalist, grew up in the Amazon. She is the translator of Thoreau's Walden into Portuguese. Collections of her poetry include Waiting Room, Word in the Spotlight, and Intimate Soot. Her book Cage appeared in 2008 and Gazing Through Water will appear in 2021.

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