The Unverifiable Resurrection of Adão da Barco
First, a tourist finds a poem in the leper colony,
carved in a kapok, ants swarming sap in the cuts.
Then a fisherman uncovers instructions for a rain dance,
an usher discovers recipes for the jubilee.
A riverboat captain comes to town and leads them
to a tree in the north describing the mating habits
of the marabunta, to one in the south with an ode to plums.
In the west, a sonnet about a hen named Lucifer
whose fiendish eggs buzzed but when opened held only
wings and stingers. The town banishes him when
he lashes himself to a poem and scratches out the last
two lines but invites him back when a psalm
about the bastard tongue of Jesus’s sister appears in the east.
No one believes the boy he carries off the boat
is his own, not even when he shows them the statue
of the sundered madonna whose toothsome breasts
smell like the common, vulgar sweetness of maracuja.
A mule, wasp-stung and raging, tramples the child
in front of an elegy for Lazarus’s wife. The town collects
mummified hummingbirds for the boy’s pockets,
but the captain returns from the jungle with something
dripping from his knife—pulsing, doubtless, radiant.
What could bring back a son. What in God’s name
was sweet, is sweet, will be sweeter after sundering.
On Kara Walker’s “Narratives of a Negress” | Rachel Richardson
My sister had been living in New York that fall, trying out dance school, renting a room in an illegal apartment with plywood walls, across the street from the train station in Queens. We wandered Manhattan by day, unsure of what to do with a city this dense and wide with possibility. It was 2002; I was studying poetry and living in little, idyllic Ann Arbor—in other words, my daily geographical radius was only a couple of miles. [Read the essay]
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