What a beautiful, energetic and culturally rich country! Our schedule in Brazil has been hectic, but there has been some time for exploring and soaking up the incredible food and drink! Between meals of churrasco (Brazilian BBQ), feijoada (a stew of beans, beef and pork) and the heady delight of lime caipirinha, we’ve also enjoyed incredible, enthusiastic crowds, and coverage to millions of Brazilians through our appearances on TV shows like Mais Você and Melhor da Noite. Not to mention taking some time to loll about on the beaches at Copa Cabana and Ipanema. This country and its generous people continue to surprise and delight us at every turn!
So here are two poems from two very contrasting cities - Belo Horizonte in the state of Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro.
Jabuticaba Sellers (Minas Gerais)
Crouched under yellow umbrellas along the highway median, each figure slouches
by their steel wheelbarrow, each one filled with deep blue mysteries -
fresh, and soaked in sun.
They sit at 80 metre intervals along the black
bitumen heat sink, that slithers across a sea
of blood red soil and dry green -
Each barrow identical, with its sweet, thick-skinned, bulbous berry hoard,
and each sullen-faced attendant, languorous,
loosely-clad along the baking highway.
Some barrows stand alone, their minders out of sight, yet there are no signs
to tempt the passing traffic into stopping and,
in exchange for the archaicity of cash,
taste the sweetness of jabuticaba.
I watch on, imagining the taste of astringent dark skin and sweet rosy flesh,
as we rush through to the city, passing
where no one is stopping to buy.
A rusty pedestrian bridge stretches its stained concrete arm across all ten lanes, reaching over the river of traffic for the ferrous soil of the opposite bank, while
ramshackle houses climb the steep hillsides, and iron ore cliffs
overlook huddled communities.
In the distance, a corporation devours a mountain range.
For the people here, so much depends upon the steel wheelbarrows,
the yellow umbrellas, and the sweet nectar of jabuticaba.
Forte Duque de Caxias at Ponta do Leme (Rio de Janeiro)
Thick green scent of jungle mingles with salt sea as I take the cobbled path
past the young military men, bright-eyed and idle in the morning heat.
Aloft the granite headland stands the old fort in its functional elegance -
aged but not tired - its architecture a whitewashed alertness.
At the entranceway, three trees once stood.
How they must have eddied the flow of young soldiers, hauling gear, refreshing
their tired journeys with a carpet of yellow blossoms.
Now, two stumps remain, hewn off at knee-height,
while the dry corpse of the last still rises in brittle strength.
What sweet long life they must have had, arching
over the gateway, offering cool shade
to the youth of a different age, who lingered here,
dapple-skinned and smoking as they gazed out at the fordable Atlantic,
the gentle Guanabara - with wild sea-eagles circling then, as now,
and the sugarloaf mountains rising like misty sentinels
guarding this paradise that withstands the undertow,
the erosion of history’s un-weather.
Now, it is the ants who march along the same jungle path, carrying
their burdens of white flowers and cut leaves,
many times the weight of their inconsequential bodies,
past the butterfly’s purple and black busyness
and the tiny faces of chittering monkeys.
The light shifts across my own moving skin, and I am enveloped
in the tender warmth of the morning, feeling nothing
but joy and joy and joy.