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.
Volume 35, Number 4 Cover art by Margaret Withers
March 31 (Tuesday) 7 pm, Boston:
A celebration of NER with readings by contributors Brock Clarke, Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Matthew Lippman, Lenore Myka, and Alexandria Peary.
A Snail's Pace | Corinne Purtill
In January 1941, after a lifetime of abdominal pains, Henri Matisse readied himself for an operation to remove fourteen inches of his ruined colon. Prudently, given the risks of radical surgery in prewar France, he also prepared to die. Amid the letters and bequests, he expressed to his doctors a wish for three more years of life—the time needed, he believed, “to bring my work to a conclusion.” [Read more]