Filipa Leal

THE LIQUID CITY

A CIDADE LIQUÍDA

The city rocked like a boat. No. Perhaps the ground would crack open somewhere. No. It was the giddiness. It was the departure. No. Perhaps the city was made of water. How to survive a liquid city?
(I tried to steady myself like a boat.)
The birds became wet against the towers. Everything was evaporating: the bells, clocks, cats, ground. Hair and gazes were rotting. Fish stood still on the doorsteps. Solid masts held the walls of things. The sailors invaded the taverns. They laughed loudly from up high in the ships. They burst in to places. People went fishing at home. They slept on the flimsiest surfaces, like rafts. Nausea and cold purpled their lips. They couldn’t see. They made love quickly in the late afternoon. It was the fear of death. The city seemed like crystal. It moved with the tides. It was a mirror of other coastal cities. As it drew closer, it flooded the buildings, the streets. It added itself to the world. It shipwrecked itself. The dwellers who could see it approaching stared at it, at each other, perplexed. They were dying of vanity and lack of air. The ones who were being dragged away held on to what was left inside the houses. They felt guilty. They feared punishment. They had so often wished to untie the city’s ropes. Now they were going with it, inside a liquid city.
(I had remained in the exact spot from which it left).

A cidade movia-se como um barco. Não. Talvez o chão se abrisse em algum lado. Não. Era a tontura. A despedida. Não. A cidade talvez fosse de água. Como sobreviver a uma cidade líquida?
(Eu tentava sustentar-me como um barco.)
As aves molhavam-se contra as torres. Tudo evaporava: os sinos, os relógios, os gatos, o solo. Apodreciam os cabelos, o olhar. Havia peixes imóveis na soleira das portas. Sólidos mastros que seguravam as paredes das coisas. Os marinheiros invadiam as tabernas. Riam alto do alto dos navios. Rompiam a entrada dos lugares. As pessoas pescavam dentro de casa. Dormiam em plataformas finíssimas, como jangadas. A náusea e o frio arroxeavam-lhes os lábios. Não viam. Amavam depressa ao entardecer. Era o medo da morte. A cidade parecia de cristal. Movia-se com as marés. Era um espelho de outras cidades costeiras. Quando se aproximava, inundava os edifícios, as ruas. Acrescentava-se ao mundo. Naufragava-o. Os habitantes que a viam aproximar-se ficavam perplexos a olhá-la, a olhar-se. Morriam de vaidade e de falta de ar. Os que eram arrastados agarravam-se ao que restava do interior das casas. Sentiam-se culpados. Temiam o castigo. Tantas vezes desejaram soltar as cordas da cidade. Agora partiam com ela dentro de uma cidade líquida.
(Eu ficara exactamente no lugar de onde saiu.)

© Translated by Ana Hudson, 2011
in A Cidade Líquida e Outras Texturas, 2006
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