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Nature Talk

by Flávia Rocha
Translated from Portuguese by
Idra Novey & Flávia Rocha

“AND THE GARDEN SUDDENLY
ROCKED WITH A CRY OF CICADAS”
—Anna Akhmatova

In the garden, the click of cicadas:
this is our last existence:
as stream or weed
without the recollection of someone else’s
dream—

voices cross the air without the gift
of being heard.

 

“A GATHERED LAKE OF AQUAMARINE
BEGINS TO SMOKE”
—Elizabeth Bishop

Steaming, the lake is not at home:
we’re awake, but go on doubting.

Grey, blue, grey, blue. Listen—
insect wings flicker in the fog: the water
pours on to another place.

 

“SHARPER THAN EVER THE AIR
REMAINING: YOU MUST BREATHE”
—Paul Celan

The air comes sharp: we have to breathe.
Molds of plants everywhere:
almost plants, mute, fresh,
sneaking there—nearly a nest.

The ground raked
and nobody to find us.

 

“AND A BOUQUET IN DISARRAY
BURNS THE WAVES’ CRESTS”
—Paul Éluard

Everything spread, nothing left to be found:
long night, white route, extinction
of everything we’ve lived: flamed
flowers float on the waves.

The bird placed on the table
remains in its place, confused by the sea breeze
blowing in from the window.

“SUN DESTROYS THE INTEREST OF
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE SHADE”
—Philip Larkin

The sun at noon, dogs
under the tree shade: heat evaporates
freshness from the leaves, which seem
to say something.

In the interval between dreams, without radiance,
the dogs age, and the leaves.

“THE SUN IS SET. THE TREES
MEDITATE LIKE STATUES”
—Federico García Lorca

Within tonight’s suspended tone
a thirst for aromas,
thirst for laughter shaking
the arrow-like grass—

hands mimicking roots
assume the idea of permanence.

“WHAT WE MUST FORGET IS
THE DAY HEAVY WITH ACTS”
—Cecília Meireles

A yellow flower takes flight—
its flight impossible

In this ex-human night
I too dreamt of a multicolor bridge
pinned across the air.

Brief presage of your return.

“INSIDE US, THEN, NO VOICE
THAT LAUGHS”
—Eugenio Montale

A tree abandoned in the suburbs,
without horror or excitement:

Trunk, branch, nest,
wind cracking leaves, and the silent
twilight, its divine indifference.

“TIME IS TERRIFIED OF CLOCKS”
—César Vallejo

The cloud fills with seeds, Fall,
with coming back, hope on the table:
the unconscious tree craves for madness
and reason:

to remember, to insist, to go and forgive?
Fall stuffs itself with Fall:
why do we die so much?

Author
Flávia Rocha is a Brazilian poet, editor, and journalist. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and is the author of two poetry books, both published in Brazil, the bilingual A Casa Azul ao Meio-dia/ The Blue House Around Noon (Travessa dos Editores, 2005) and Quartos Habitáveis (Confraria do Vento, 2011). She is the editor-in-chief of Rattapallax, a literary journal based out of New York City featuring contemporary American and international poetry. Her translations from English into Portuguese of contemporary poetry often appear in literary magazines in Brazil. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and two young daughters.
Translator
Idra Novey is a novelist, poet, and translator. She is the award-winning author of the novels Those Who Knew and Ways to Disappear. Her work has been translated into ten languages and she's translated numerous authors from Spanish and Portuguese, most recently Clarice Lispector. For her poetry and translation she has received awards from the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Translator
Flávia Rocha is a Brazilian poet, editor, and journalist. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and is the author of two poetry books, both published in Brazil, the bilingual A Casa Azul ao Meio-dia/ The Blue House Around Noon (Travessa dos Editores, 2005) and Quartos Habitáveis (Confraria do Vento, 2011). She is the editor-in-chief of Rattapallax, a literary journal based out of New York City featuring contemporary American and international poetry. Her translations from English into Portuguese of contemporary poetry often appear in literary magazines in Brazil. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and two young daughters.