Poems From The Portuguese
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Luís Filipe Parrado

(B. 1968)

Between the avidness of reading and a certain meta-poetic tension, Luis Filipe Parrado’s poetry builds up a space whose reading instructions are simple and almost suggested by himself: 'hands have to be well washed before sitting down at poetry's table.' Then one has to focus, un-focus, and focus again on the objects. It is the light that Luis Filipe Parrado brings onto the objects that is demanding.

Luís Filipe Parrado was born in Seixal, a small town on the south bank of the river Tagus. He is a secondary school teacher.

Poetry books since 2000:

Entre a Carne e o Osso (2012)

Poems

PARTS OF A WHOLE

21 Setembro, 2018By bitcliq

This afternoon, as I sat on a park bench,
I tried to read a difficult book
while waiting for you.
The book made waiting harder, more painful.
Then I lifted my eyes from the pages,
put the book aside; I saw a young man
approaching and going by
holding a plastic bag
full of red apples in one hand
and a carton of eggs in the other.
It was a transparent plastic bag
clearly revealing the perfect shape
and splendour of the apples, all together
like parts of a whole.
I couldn’t stop looking at them
and just then you came.
Only now, having had dinner and done
the washing, I remember the book
left abandoned on the bench.

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THE WEATHER

Old men sit on this bench
figuring out the weather, leaning against
an even older, dark gable. Hidden
in the shade, I too have left behind
the light of the dunes. The eyes painting
in blind colours that place where joy was
undone, a story of mislaid waters at the heart
of the earth. The end of one’s love is like a dream.
Still now the cigarette smoke tastes
better when the morning breathes
after serene sleep. In its funnel radiant filings
show how one falls into the black limbo of the horizon,
into the thickness of the river after dusk.
Yes, I knew too late what I could have said
about my life, my mouth locked in chains
and rags, I was plainly dead.
Like the old men still sitting on this bench
I wake up in time to buy some bread
and wipe your face from my past, a shattered promise,
a grain of youth which guides me like a faint light
only kept in the wind of these words.

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OF THE HALF-LIGHT OF WOODS

I don’t know the half-light of woods
or the brief happiness of the trails,
the frugal, soft uncertainty of time that changes me.
But this, which isn’t much, I know: you won’t know me.
You can weigh your gaze on mine, suspend
my skin, mirror the tone of voice
that burns in my throat, read the words I use
to tell the position of my body,
without being tired or lonely, my elbow
on the chair’s plastic arm, my legs bent,
my naked feet caressed by the cold breeze
of a delayed spring. But you won’t know me.
I can tell you about stolen figs on farms,
the drama of faces, ruggedness in voices,
a lantern in the night, a bicycle with-
out brakes. Or about a house as old as myself
and the sad paper flowers on the walls, the rain
lashing against the window panes, the family shopping,
the crossed out pages: you won’t know me. And the price
to pay is the highest price, for I won’t know
you. And I don’t mean sacrifices or other feelings, it’s enough
for me the pulsating of my veins. I won’t know you.
Every day our paths cross but soon
enough we understand, as close tight
as day and night, that in each
of our paths, each one of us is lost.

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BOATS, BOOKS, BICYCLES

Our love is beautiful
like the winter journeys
we never did together,
like the hot countries
we’ve never been to.
It’s beautiful like a train missed
at the last moment,
or a small harbour town
accidentally found.
Beautiful like torn maps
with the minor roads unmarked,
like mountains shrouded in mist
on a hot day,
boats in a deserted bay,
books peppered with sand,
bicycles with no brakes or destination.
Beautiful like the sun
that will die after us
five thousand million years from now,
and beautiful like the sealed breath
in the heart of things.
Such is our love. So beautiful,
so clear, so pure
that, eyes set on the night,
we manage to believe it exists.

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