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from the September 2007 issue

I brought flowers . . .

I brought flowers
They're not all white, Mother
But they're morning's fresh flowers
They opened yesterday
I kept them by me all night
While straining the honey
And weaving my dress
It's not white, Mother
But it will do for the sacrificial table
I brought the tacula* cream
Used in Grandmother's day
It's not thick, Mother
But it covers my body
I brought the candles
Of wax and bees' wings
They're not pure, Mother
But they can burn all night
I brought the song
It's not clear, Mother
But it has the right birds
To follow the days as they fall
Between my time and yours.

*The wood of the tacula tree is used to make a red dye and powder, from which a cream with reputedly protective qualities is produced in turn.

From Ex-votos. Copyright 2003 by Ana Paula Tavares. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Richard Zenith. All rights reserved.

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