Poems From The Portuguese

Industrial fable

Industrial fable

The factory chimneys were like
stork necks, and when they gave off
smoke it was as if the storks were opening
their wings. When the smoke was black
however, the storks changed into
crows with huge necks made of
bricks; they didn’t take flight like the storks
but instead sounded sirens
with their metallic beaks, letting
the home-bound workers out
of their bellies. The following
day, if the smoke was white, the workers
would hold on to the storks’ wings
and stretch them as if they were
linen in order to fold them and
store them in containers on waiting ships
which would take them to countries
where there was a shortage of sheets. This
is the reason stork nests on top of tall
electric pylons are empty; and also the
reason why foxes run from tree to tree
looking for a perching crow, unable to find
the fable-promised cheese.

© Translated by Ana Hudson, 2019

Fábula industrial

As chaminés das fábricas tinham
pescoços de cegonha, e quando deitavam
fumo era como se as cegonhas abrissem
as asas. Quando o fumo era preto,
porém, as cegonhas transformavam-se
em corvos de grandes pescoços feitos
de tijolo; e ao contrário das cegonhas
não voavam, mas faziam soar as sirenes
com os bicos metálicos, para que
os operários saíssem do seu ventre
em direcção a casa. No dia
seguinte, se o fumo fosse branco, as operárias
agarrar-se-iam às asas da cegonha
e puxá-las-iam, como se fossem
linho, para as enrolar e meter
nos contentores que os barcos esperam
no cais, para as levar para os países
com falta de lençóis. É por isso que
os ninhos de cegonha, nos grandes postes
eléctricos estão vazios; e que as raposas
correm de uma árvore para outra,
à procura de um ramo em que esteja
um corvo, sem conseguirem encontrar
o queijo que a fábula lhes prometeu.

2019, unpublished
© Nuno Júdice

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