Literal Translation by Hilary Kaplan
Literal Translation of Angélica Freitas’s “O Pavão no telhado” for A New Divan
Tr. Hilary Kaplan
The Peacock on the Roof
It flies. It’s on the roof/top [telhado and teto both mean “roof.” “On top” is an alternative, for variation.]
of the dormitory, extraordinary
and at the same time,
a bird. [It] Flies.
I didn’t know/never knew. I don’t know it [the bird].
This is [I’m on] a silent meditation
retreat, ten days of peacocks
and not a word/no commentary.
My knees hurt from sitting/staying seated
on the floor so long.
During the break, the reward: a peacock
that opens its tail, and all of us/we all [women—todas is feminine plural],
without emitting/letting out a sound, open our mouths.
Splendor/Majesty, I don’t know you.
The first time I heard it [the peacock],
I thought it was a cat
The instructions/directions are to keep your eyes closed.
Breathing, sneezes, and the peacock
calling/crying/shrieking/screeching/meowing. Then, the choral singing/vocal music
from the mosques, and I cry.
I don’t know why, but I cry.
On the last day someone finds,
delighted/overjoyed, a feather from the animal/one of the creature’s feathers.
She’s going to take it home, keep/store it
in a sacred book.
Years later, the/my memory
will be [of] the bird on the roof, its tail open/fanned/spread,
the silence of forty women,
and not knowing hardly anything.
of the mechanics/engineering of flight.
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