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

in distress/trouble.

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 ourselves,

of the mechanics/engineering of flight.


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