Turbulent water
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  • I

    Or the sands of night
    on a sheet white with Foam sleeps tired
    Itabuan, the fisherman, a prisoner among
    the algae, of the algae, will not be freed,
    Night does not give him rest as before;
    his arms are restless, they fish no more.
    He knows where to go for various changes,
    he thinks like a man and he acts like a fish,
    the skin breaks and heals,
    he does not come out of the sea anymore, he sinks deeper.
    He talks with the fish and knows
    how to mix with the other fish:
    the pindà, the black pindà, the pirarucù.
    The red reheats the waters, reheats
    him, illuminating two big fixed eyes,
    his moist eyes out of orbit.
    When he fished, Itabuan always stayed stock-still
    to struggle with the restless fish,
    their mobility, ferocity, ability.
    Today he himself is the fish, he navigates,
    may know other waters,
    get out of the river and the forest,
    have vertigo at the depth of the dark
    abyss, exploring, that which
    other men only imagine,
    he who conducts himself like a fish
    and thinks like a man.
    His vision changes, he loses some senses,
    he acquires others.
    Tastes are different, colours,
    different the night, not black
    as before, he manages to wander in obscurity.

    II

    The Rio Amazonas works without pause, lives:
    frogs croak, branches of trees
    fall, soaked with humidity.
    they go down the river
    that biforks sinuously,
    leaving islands, lakes, waterfalls.
    A branch pierces the heart of Itabuan
    and he will go. far, far,
    with the branch in his heart.
    The fish goes on the wave, into the ocean
    brings memories of green immensity within him
    and symphonies of blue-green coral together.
    The god Jaguar wants to see with the eyes of Itabuan,
    his eyes go and return
    from the land to the sea, from the sea to the land.
    The rhythm of the drum, the obre-olas
    multitudes of trees, branch-faces
    confused with the sound of the rivers
    and of the waterfalls- Entire cities.
    And with streets alight.
    «When your soul enters
    the house of the dead, the drums
    and the flutes will not salute you,
    your shadow will be seen no more
    in the image and likeness
    of your earthly gods.»
    So says the, god Jaguar.

    III

    The evening is strange. The day
    brings memories of another colour,
    submerged statues, ancient treasures,
    and the light invades
    nude statues, other gods:
    Jove, Saturn and Minerva with warrior
    sword rests seated.
    Her tresses are roots in the water,
    temples and volcano craters.

    IV

    Alone, Itabuan, a floating object
    through a triangle, discovers a circle,
    a triangle again.
    He discovers another sea, white with foam, with white water, white.
    A viscid substance has another taste
    and dead peaches, and chains of algae.
    It is not a deep night,
    that of a clouded sky, of rain.
    The sea is a dark liquid, a black sea
    black, black, a black sea.
    Sunken ships pass, they launch
    metal cylinders from their mouths.
    More fish die, they continue to die.
    Itabuan does not know, is unaware:
    Is he a fish man or a man fish?
    He can not continue, after touching other dead fish
    he is no longer happy.
    He tries another way, he asks:
    «Why am I not dead with the others»
    An abandoned machine, devoured by the ocean
    New discoveries, he breaks
    a piece of glass. Sinuous lines of blood
    trickle into the water
    and the eyes of Itabuan cease to sec.
    The sea is a dark liquid
    a black sea, black.

    Márcia Theóphilo – 1985

    English version by Desmond O’Grady, 1999