Urutáu
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  • A breeze brushes the face of Urutáu
    the birds sing in the trees
    by day and by night,
    Urutáu sees them, listens to them
    picks the fruits, has to return to the village.
    Must go back to his kin.
    But what is stopping him?
    Eight or ten little birds blue in colour
    are cradled in the branches of a tree.
    A choir of ruffled feathers
    of half-closed beaks.
    The chirping grows.
    The dance of the Tangarás all around
    The palms, the embirugú,
    the ficus, the tururí,
    its thin wood
    from which the shaman Urutáu’s mask is carved
    make him fly far, up to the sky
    Thoughts flow in the wind
    in the silent dawn
    Flying, head held high
    in the immense forest.
    And moves above the trees
    above the igrapés
    the igarapós
    the still planes
    Hears a roar: the pororoca
    where the big river meets the sea.
    Yara calls: Uyara, Ayara, Boiagú
    the water mother gives strength to his flight
    The green grows, tormented the leaves.
    His head painted white with tabatinga
    and his legs with red urucú
    Abandons his human soul:
    Urutáu is a bird
    his wings pulsate, quiver
    Sings the night through till dawn
    when the beginning of the day gladdens. Then in a valley,
    in between the mountains, listens to a torrent.
    Does not come down, stays up high
    fly, Urutáu fly
    Don’t be afraid of severing
    your wings against the peaks
    Breathe the scent of the air.
    Keep wearing : necklaces of shells
    mollusks and bells
    of his human identity.
    From the village they call him:
    «his enemies have feet
    and don’t reach him
    have hands
    and don’t seize him
    arrows and lances will break
    before reaching his body»
    When Urutáu passes, the earth seems to open:
    his thought is a seed which roots
    and weaves flowers, sweet chantings
    nature wraps herself in silence
    the birds become still
    a hot wind blows on the banks,
    the clouds approach
    branches bend
    a gigantic flute calls
    under the earth.
    Urutáu calls his friends the fruits
    goiaba, cajá, manga, mangaba
    muricí, pitanga, jenipapo
    pitomba, jaboticaba, jatobá.
    From the top of an enormous tree
    Urutáu sees the forest for the last time.
    New scents impregnate the air
    the mucura steals the fire
    The battle with the wind intensifies the anxiety
    From the top of the tree Urutáu calls to the village:
    «Come, come and see»
    nobody listens, no one answers his call
    The bird crosses regions of green
    thin deserts, again the green
    again the desert
    the waters are yellow fires, clouds and smoke together
    the bulldozers invade
    advance, lights dazzle him
    fierce thoughts pierce him
    From the city rising refuse touch his wings
    leaves, old letters
    flowers of aluminum and paper.
    Night falls, Urutáu
    chooses his new ground
    no longer eternal, he will live day by day.
    Urutáu, dispersed bird
    your wood is amongst the skyscrapers
    between the cement walls your nest

    Márcia Theóphilo 1986
    English version by Hania Kochansky -2000