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A Watermill Beneath the Bed by Rosa Alice Branco translated by  Alexis Levitin


                                                             for Carlos


The mosquito net hangs over the white bedspread.

There is a rapids flowing right beneath the bed

and it drags us through the dizzying histories of water.

And it is there that words stumble over one another.

A cascade of words that earlier were only dust and wind.

At nightfall, the miller would go off to the tavern

and in every glass would ask about the color of the wine

and what does color mean. There were banana trees along the way

and bunches of them hanging like the mosquito net.

Held by a cross-bar and we, for example, asking nothing.

The evidence of bodies must be like a harp,

that is to say like the tense strings of a child arriving late for school.

In everything flour was ground for wine.

The mosquito net is light like everything we silence.

How to say love, that very love that takes all the salt

from tears? Sweetness is a car stuck in the mud beside a lake

and we uneasy because itís hard to know what to do

with so much love in our fingers and which way to turn

the steering wheel. The same sweat grinding and, in us,

within the white net, a cascade of drops upon the bed,

 and the rapids murmuring through the night.

At times dreaming it was slow, caressing stone by stone

in its bed. Thus would we linger in one another: the lightness

that flows beneath the bed is the law of water and when it

comes clear we will guess how to knead the whiteness of the flour

or spread the mosquito net to the panting transparency of morning.

When night falls, the miller rests his arms and the color of wine

is like the mill stoneís pact, like the thrust of the water.

Sometimes we fret and fret not seeing that in the silence

of the night flour is slowly turning into bread.



Only the Cats by Rosa Alice Branco translated by Alexis Levitin


The cats ate nothing today.

They gathered slowly on the roof,

not even the rain made them open their tongues.

Nor did the water drain their voice. The cats did not meow.

That gliding stride that belongs to cats alone

led them away from the words chiselled in marble

or recumbent granite. From flowered plastic.

From the flowers that absence perpetuates.

Today the graves are silent

and the cats with their claws flattened against the tiles,

with that gaze that only cats can gaze,

still donít know if they have lost their faith in life

or even more in death. They feel an unnamed

knot in the throat like all of us.

From the rooftops they say no to the heavens.

They want to make it clear close up.