All the Ways to Sing in Portuguese

September 5, 2013

 By Caits Meissner

For Flonia

I once loved the split fruit of a woman, scooping
the seeds from the apple’s thick core, a dual moon
I might have envied but oh, this floating voice, crooning,
tempting to blossom, to place the tongue to each round
breadfruit & lick. You must believe me, that once upon
a time I was a rifle, a strong canon shooting off at the
slightest threat of lip or lash or shimmy- but tonight
Cachaca rains from the ceiling & the voice startles the
slow honey of our hearts with this certain cleanness &
we fall in love with the woman on stage, flocking
like fish to light, though we are drowning with
the song of all women under our feet & we lift
the veil to show our painted eyes & oh, we dance.

Now that it is late & the sangria has ripened us, you lean
over & whisper into the shell of my ear, I want to sing, too.
& so we do, in the middle of West Broadway, in the thicket
of thorn-ed night while the man lay his cardboard across
the concrete. New York lullaby, Fado, Samba, the low vibration
of Portuguese & then the quick crack of open throat, as if
exiting the earthly body, as if this flesh is a laugh & something
we’ve invented to trick ourselves into feeling real.
Darling woman, this portrait of yourself with red flower
held under nose is beautiful, if you prefer beauty,
but what for? Take a knife to the canvas, rid
your song of its cage of petals & bring it into the world
like a screaming newborn aching to touch the air, to be alive.

MeissnerCaits Meissner is a New York City-based community arts educator and writer dedicated to transformation and healing through storytelling. Winner of the OneWorld Poetry Contest, Caits attended the 2008 Pan-African Literary Forum in Ghana, studying under Yusef Komunyakaa. Caits has been published in various journals and books, including The Literary Review and Saul Williams’ CHORUS anthology. Her poetry/music album, the wolf & me, was released in 2010 to online acclaim on platforms such as Okayplayer. The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, Caits’ collaborative poetry book with poet Tishon, arrived January 2012 on the Well&Often imprint, a press where she also served as education editor for the online Well&Often Reader literary magazine. Caits has taught around the country and performed at high profile venues

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