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Caiçara Song

By
July 16, 2012

With the thousand bananas
on my plate, a fish swims.
The boy licks his lips
and the cat, the fins.

All I want
Lord in Heaven
is a net for fishing
oh! please keep
Lord in Heaven
my canoe from tipping.

My fishhook snagged two catfish
three squid on the zangareio
seven paddles in the sea
scaring off the little fish.

My boys run-run
to find firewood in the scrub
but leave my dog behind—
the woods are full of ticks.

The press has manioc flour
the cabana has mosquitoes
a sardine has many bones
I will salt the Spanish mackerel.

Watch the wave against the canoe
wave passes, ripple comes
feel the speed bump
that even the sea has
in the bottom of the bow.

It comes quickly and embraces me
my beautiful Caiçara
it kisses me and kneads
the pimenta pepper with babucita.

Tell me your desire
and I’ll rush to fulfill that wish:
a star from the sky
or do you want a starfish?

G

Translator’s Note: Caiçara refers to both a fish trap and the coastal peoples of Rio de Janeiro state, São Paulo state, and Paraná, who have Portuguese, indigenous, and African roots.

Author Image

Flávio de Araújo (b. 1975) is a contemporary poet from Paraty, Brazil, who comes from a family of caiçara fishermen. His debut poetry collection, Zangareio, was published in conjunction with the 2008 Paraty International Literary Festival. Araújo has also been a featured reader at the International Literary Festival of Porto de Galinhas-Pernambuco, the International Literature Festival in Havana, Cuba, and the Salvador Díaz Mirón Iberoamericano Festival of Poetry in Las Choapas, Mexico.

The recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Hopwood Award, Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren’s poems have appeared in journals such as The Common, Nimrod, Calyx, New Delta Review, and Upstairs at Duroc. Her translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Two Lines and Asymptote. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry and literary translation at Columbia University.

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