a woman lay in intensive care
in a fog of bandages with tubes
entering her nostrils and hands,
which twitched, and it was all metallic,

but she, the cut and punctured,
was just a question of tottering, uncertain time,
just a voiceless moan when the troubled man
leaned over in the countdown of seconds,

but she, the dripper,
was a pure interlude on a weak frontier,
just the weight of eyelids and thick night, when he, leaning over,
murmured the words she didn’t hear.

when the visit was over, a glance, the last one
of that day, wrapped her in pensive silences.
questioning and hope’s negation are like the black rose
of the conditions for hope.

he removed the obligatory white smock, slowly walked out,
and tucked away the translucent face wrapped in thin gauze.
how long ago was it? in what place, in what furtive morning of memory?
who was the man? what words did he proffer?

i no longer know. it’s like seeing from the street a figure
through wind-blown curtains. sometimes i think it was me,
but i also wonder if someone in my stead, in a fold of time,
might have so softly murmured the forgotten words.

but if it wasn’t me, how did i know about that choked voice
that kept slipping until it could no longer be heard
outside the heart? and if it was me, how could i
have spoken so inwardly, in such a muffled tone?

because it’s other rhythms i seek in the world, other,
more coldly considered knots in the throat, other trembling
intensities, more detached from immediate emotion,
and i would never again say such obscure words.

who it was doesn’t matter. the winds and seas
have billowed and rolled, slowly eroding truths, circumstances.
there was a woman in intensive care
who in a fog heard the sounds she didn’t hear.

 

© Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith
© 1987, Vasco Graça Moura

From: A furiosa paixão pelo tangível
Publisher: Quetzal, Lisbon, 1987
ISBN: 972-564-028-9