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He told me he was always praying for the Brazilian slaves. Agitated, he insisted on reconciliation. Canada has changed me, he said, or at least I like to believe it.

I nodded, listening to his memories, escaping the dictatorship, bringing with him only poets and stanzas full of sins. I could almost hear his guilt and the ship’s bell.

Holding the thermometer, I knew he had very high fear, and fever, and even though he was dying, I kept wishing he would get better, expecting God to save him.

Holding my breath, I knew part of me was dying too, losing loved ones along the way, away from home because home is where I stand.

Portugal is forgiven, I told him, all is well. And for the first time, I spoke to him in Portuguese. I told him I was à deriva too. And like him, I would feel saudade of the geese, one day, after I became ashes thrown in the mountains of this province.

He tried to speak but eventually the room grew quieter, his hand in mine, colder and warmer, colder and warmer, like many others before him.

Published in Cirque.