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Poetry From the August 2013 issue: Brazil


Mermaid in Earnest

sereia a sério

the cruelest part was that as beautiful
as much as her features flaunted
a genetic pedigree of bonafide aristocracy
and her hands deftly wielded
needlework and roast chickens
and her tresses attested
to tortoiseshell combs and splendid grooming
the fascination would always remain
with the mermaid’s tail

i won’t repeat the story
after andersen & co
we all know the rough path
first the impossible desire
for the prince (doll in formal attire)
then awareness
of powerful witchcraft

in exchange she gives something up
her voice, her elastic hymen
her club med membership card

it is a difficult process

feminine bipeds are fooling themselves
attributing to high heels
the pain more properly ascribed to haughtiness
seeing as
the mermaid treads on knives when she uses her feet

and who takes her seriously?
the ending would be better if
instead of the elephant that dances
in her head when she sees the prince
and the 36 fingers
that sprout when she offers her hand

she regained her tail
and never shaved again

o cruel era que por mais bela
por mais que os rasgos ostentassem
fidelíssimas genéticas aristocráticas
e as mãos fossem hábeis
no manejo de bordados e frangos assados
e os cabelos atestassem
pentes de tartaruga e grande cuidado

a perplexidade seria sempre
com o rabo da sereia

não quero contar a história
depois de andersen & co.
todos conhecem as agruras
primeiro o desejo impossível
pelo príncipe (boneco em traje de gala)
depois a consciência
de uma macumba poderosa

em troca deixa-se algo
a voz, o hímen elástico
a carteira de sócia do méditerranée

são duros os procedimentos

bípedes femininas se enganam
imputando a saltos altos
a dor mais acertada à altivez
pois
a sereia pisa em facas quando usa os pés

e quem a leva a sério?
melhor seria um final
em que voltasse ao rabo original
e jamais se depilasse

em vez do elefante dançando no cérebro
quando ela encontra o príncipe
e dos 36 dedos
que brotam quando ela estende a mão




Angélica FreitasAngélica Freitas

Angélica Freitas (b. 1973) is the author of two collections of poetry, Rilke shake (Cosac Naify, 2007) and Um útero é do tamanho de um punho (Cosac Naify, 2012), and a graphic novel, Guadalupe (Companhia das Letras, 2012). She co-edits the poetry journal Modo de Usar & Co. from her home in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Translated from PortuguesePortuguese by Hilary KaplanHilary Kaplan

Hilary Kaplan’s translations of Brazilian poetry and fiction appear in Litro, Machado de Assis, PEN America, Rattapallax, Two Lines, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. She received a PEN Translation Fund award for Rilke Shake, a book of poems by Angélica Freitas, and a Rumos Literatura grant for literary criticism from Itaú Cultural. Her writing on Brazilian poetry and poetics has been published in Jacket2 and the collection Deslocamentos Críticos (Babel, 2011). She holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and is a doctoral candidate in comparative literature at Brown University.