By Manuel Bandeira
Translated by Elizabeth Bishop
Misael, civil servant in the Ministry of Labor, 63 years old,
Knew Maria Elvira of the Grotto: prostitute, syphilitic, with ulcerated fingers, a pawned wedding ring and teeth in the last stages of decay.
Misael took Maria out of "the life," installed her in a two-storey house in Junction City, paid for the doctor, dentist, manicurist. . . . He gave her everything she wanted.
When Maria Elvira discovered she had a pretty mouth, she immediately took a boy-friend.
Misael didn't want a scandal. He could have beaten her, shot her, or stabbed her. He did none of these: they moved.
They lived like that for three years.
Each time Maria Elvira took a new boy-friend, they moved.
The lovers lived in Junction City. Boulder. On General Pedra Street, The Sties. The Brickyards. Glendale. Pay Dirt. On Marquês de Sapucaí Street in Villa Isabel. Niterói. Euphoria. In Junction City again, on Clapp Street. All Saints. Carousel. Edgewood. The Mines. Soldiers Home . . .
Finally, in Constitution Street, where Misael, bereft of sense and reason, killed her with six shots, and the police found her stretched out, supine, dressed in blue organdy.
From Poet's Choice in today's Washington Post Book World. "What is a prose poem?" asks Robert Pinsky. "Who knows? Usually, the term is defined in contrast to poems written in lines that printers call 'ragged right.' Instead, maybe it should be defined in contrast to conventional prose narratives." In Bishop's translation above, he notes, "the speed and compression [by comparison] make most novels (or, for that matter, most movies) seem unbearably slow. The place-names advance the story in a few seconds, whereas conventional narrative might take hours...the blue organdy and the sounds and overtones of the neighborhoods, with each new place meaning the drama of another boyfriend -- that deft, mysterious creation of feeling from a few words is...poetry."
Saturday younger son had a soccer game smack in the middle of the afternoon, so we could not plan any long-distance expotitions. That being the case, I wrote a couple of articles in the morning -- Alexander Siddig talking about Hannibal, George Takei talking about Roddenberry's being afraid to have gay characters on Star Trek -- and burned a couple of DVDs for my uncle. After soccer, where younger son played fairly well but his team lost again, to his aggravation, we had a bunch of stores we needed to stop in, so we went up to Gaithersburg where we knew there was a Borders, a CVS and a foreign food store all in close proximity (apaulled needed marzipan for something he is concocting for me and his mother for Mother's Day). Although we had talked about going to Seneca Creek State Park to hike a little, I convinced him to go to the lake in Montgomery Village to see whether any of the numerous geese there had babies yet, and we hit the jackpot.
By the water...
...eating grass by houses...
...in the woods...
Otherwise we had a quiet evening; younger son wanted to watch The Revenge of the Sith (maybe he associates it with geese since I took last year's gosling pictures before the movie), so we put that on for about half the movie until it was bedtime (screenplay hasn't gotten any better, Ewan still looks good and I love the dinosaur-thing), then hubby and I put on Saturday Night Live thinking Tom Hanks was on this week but apparently we had the wrong week, so after Al Gore we turned off Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Oh, and dementordelta linked me to fairestcat's reproductions of gay army towel ads. I want to be the towel girl! Or the crocodile! And where IS that one guy's hand!
For Mother's Day I will be out with my parents, apaulled's parents and my kids. So I may be tired by evening. *g* Hope all mothers and everyone who has a mother has a lovely Sunday!