to be portuguese

 
 
to be portuguese
 
is to be born with the fado around your neck
to live with your eyes anchored
to the open sea, longing for the outgoing tide
or for its incoming wave
 
living canned up between the sea and spain
exporting sardines
 
going to mass and forgetting the sermon
it’s confessing to friends
with a bottle in your hand
 
and not making waves
the ones that stir up the sea are enough
 
praying for peace
admiring fátima and batalha
in the same holy visit
 
to be portuguese is
to love your car more than yourself
and find it more affordable
 
to be portuguese is
to travel abroad josé
and come back joe
 
to be small
but with an eye for everything
 
to be portuguese is
not to be spanish
 
to be born with pains in there, poor thing, living
with pains right here in my side, doctor,
and dying with pains over there, god help us
 
it’s offering the barbecued chicken breast to the kids
and fighting off your own hunger with a few puny wings
leaving the nest when your whiskers are white
 
to be portuguese is
not to be any of this
but to say amen to it all

                         (…)  — translated by Hugh Hazelton

 excerpt from ser português by paulo da costa

Memória – An Anthology of Portuguese Canadian writers 

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Fidalgo Books; First edition (November 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986056502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986056505
  • http://www.amazon.com/
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