The Distant Land

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From the beginning, men speak Portuguese. Banana is not banana because the land is orange and seeds appear to wear impermeable togas. Near the river, hunters carry signs of a great god, indicating that the Indians should pray. In Portugal, laws parade over their heads. The appearance of the valley stops them midway. There is gold, ouro, one yells with his tongue extended out. When the caravelas arrived, the milk of the flowers was sour, and the sand dusted with fireflies. Words are not palavras, because they don’t carry any written matter. Messages from the distant land are gifts and little crosses. The old people are distraught, touching the men’s clothes, heavy as the sun setting in the horizon. Once in a while one steals a hat, puts on the naked women, grunts, and continues.  

Poem published in The Birds We Piled Loosely.