There was a high wall between our houses.
Difficult to send her a message.
There was no email.
Her father was a jaguar.
We tied notes to a rock bound to a rope
and I threw the rock into her backyard.
It was glorious.
But sometimes the note got stuck in the branches of the guayaba tree
and then it was agony.
So it was in the time of jaguars.
I never lived far from my country,
However I suffer from farness.
In my childhood my mother had the illness.
She was the one who gave it to me.
Later my father went to work at a place
that gave this illness to people.
It was a place without name or neighbors.
People said it was the nail on the toe at the end of the world.
We grew up without any other houses nearby.
A place that offered only birds, trees, a river and its fish.
There were unbridled horses in the scrub grass,
their backs covered with butterflies.
The rest was only distance.
Distance was an empty thing we carried in the eye,
what my father called exile.
--- Manoel de Barros (Brazil)
Translation from the Portuguese
© 2007 Idra Novey