Igreja do Bonfim

Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Quarto dos Milagres

Walking the hill of Igreja do Bonfim…

I stand in the open-air square, surrounded by the beat of the benim bau.

The ocean, the palm trees, the sunlight, the view of Bahia… city of rolling hills.

The pobre tie a white ribbon around my wrist, protecting me, granting me a wish…

I ascended the stairs to the Igreja, supplicating myself; I kiss the entrance stone,

worn thin, by the many who have trod upon it… for over four hundred years.

Kneeling upon cold soap stone floors, soothing in this hot tropical heat.

I pray in Oxala’s house, windows wide open, air from the sea, light from the sun!

In this splendor, I make my way to the room of miracles… Quarto dos Milagres!

Like some strange, human, butcher shop, wax limbs, arms, surround me,

legs, heads, suspended from the ceiling. On the walls… crutches, glass eyes, silver livers,

kidneys, penises and vulvas, photos of the ill, the injured, paintings of ship wreaks, fires

accidents, thousands of relics left by the faithful, all seeking Oxala’s divine intervention!

All of this… boils on the senses, everything we have assumed goes…limp, white.

Then there is the moonlight… incense burns, candles are lit, flowers floating, a small

statue of Iemanja tied in ribbons sinks into the sea… offerings to Iemanja…the mother…

then… there is just the sound of Imeanja… her surf rising and falling…

her waves… which… like her hair let down…. tosses to and fro…

as she accepts our gifts, into the tropical blue… of the mother’s… womb!


Song of the Sabia

song of the sabia

I awake to the song, of the sabia
a bird whose song
is a continues melodic, melody.
The sun is bright,
shining through, the shuttered windows
so that… the perfumed air of the earth,
meets no resistance.

I rise from bed…
a bed… almost to small to hold me.
Walking to the window,
I open the hand honed, blue shutters,
and the jungle… the floresta,
all that green, that verge,
is framed before me… in blue,
stark contrast to the white washed walls.

A hummingbird, a beijaflor …kisses a flower
while a skinny dog… cachorro stretches,
then chases after a child…
a young girl…
her curly black hair,
bleached blond, by the jungles sun.
Her Mother.. Toothless shouts after her.
“ Anda menina, tem muito pra fazer!”
“ Hurry little one… there is much to do!”
No school for this one

Baby shows himself,
barefoot, knees dirty, diapered,
his T-shirt rising above the belly,
fist rubbing his eye.
To shy to talk…!

Chickens scratch the ground
and the green rooster galo struts.
The cachorro has long forgotten the children
and now chases a porcoespinho… a porcupine,
across the ridge… back into the jungle.
tonight… we will have to bind the dog,
tightly to a tree,
and with a pair of pliers,
remove the quills from his snout.

The jungle…
The floresta, it’s silver palm fronds
turned toward the sun,
reflecting like giant mirrors.
Butterflies… borboleta, dart across
Iemanja blue skies
like schools of flying fish.
While clouds…. samba,
as white as skirts
of… condomble cotton.

Insects buss, mosquitoes… purple banana blossoms,
and sparrows land on Taioba,
with leaves the size of elephant’s ears.
A spring trickles down the rocks,
forming a pool,
next to the bamboo…
there the old frog sapo croaks.

Outside… on the porch,
a small table has been prepared.
Papaya, pao and quejio, have been laid,
served with cafe, dark, sweet and sticky,
drunk from a small glass… called a xicara.
On my bare chest…
I ware the beads, of the Sete Santos,
having completed… all seven banos,
felio de Xango!

Far down… in the valley
on the dusty dirt road,
and old man is walking.
Chepeu on head.. shirt unbuttoned,
carrying over his shoulder… a hoe.
How far… I have removed myself,
living in a house … built on stilts
in the mountains… of Vitoria…
na floresta, verde… do Brasil!