from An Education on Invention
To enter the state of being a tree it’s necessary
to begin with a gecko’s amphibian torpor
at three in the afternoon in the month of August.
In two years inertia and scrub grass will begin
to expand our mouths. We will suffer
a little lyrical decomposition
until the scrub grass emerges in our speech.
For now, I have designed the smell of the trees.
The Mayor dispatched a messenger by horse with a letter to the Emperor.
The letter announced the city had been invaded by Paraguayan troops
and expressed a need for extra recourses.
Two months later, the messenger handed the letter to the Emperor.
When the recourses arrived, the Paraguayans were no longer there.
The Emperor’s men came with fifteen young women and a few provisions to eat on the way.
I guess they ate them all.
Corumbá is a city whose population is well mixed with Paraguayans.
Manoel de Barros, author of more than twenty collections of poetry, was born in the swamp region of Brazil known as the Pantanal in 1916. He received Brazil’s highest award for poetry, the Jabuti Prize, in both 1990 and 2002, the Nestle Poetry Prize in 1997 and 2006, and the Ministry of Culture’s Cecilia Meireles Prize in 1998. His life and work were the subject of Joel Pizzini’s 1989 film O Caramujo Flor.
Idra Novey’s first book of poems The Next Country will be released from Alice James Books this fall. Her recent poems appear in Slate, AGNI, and The Paris Review. She received a P.E.N. Translation Fund Award for her translations of Brazilian poet Paulo Henriques Britto; the book, The Clean Shirt of It, was published in the Lannan Translation Series with BOA Editions in 2007.