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"Song of the Phantom Girl of Belo Horizonte", by Carlos Drummond de Andrade
From the collected poems Travelling in the Family
Edited and translated by Thomas Colchie and Mark Strand (The Ecco Press)
 
 
 
I am the phantom girl
Who waits on Chumbo Street
for the coach of dawn.
I am white and tall and cold,
my flesh is a sigh
in the mountain dawn.
I am the phantom girl.
My name was Maria,
Maria-who-died.

I am the girl you loved
who died of sickness,
who died in a car crash,
who killed herself on the beach,
whose hair stayed
long in your memory.
I was never of this world;
when kissed, my mouth
spoke of other planets
where lovers burn 
in a chaste fire
and without irony 
turn into stars.

Unlike the other, I died
without having time to be yours.
I cannot get used to this, 
and when the police are asleep
in and around me,
my wandering ghost 
goes down Curral Hill,
spying on the new houses,
circling the lovers' gardens
(Claudio Manuel da Costa Street), 
stopping for shelter in the Hotel Ceara
that offers no shelter. A perfume
I do not know invades me:
it is the odor of your sleep,
soft and warm, curled up
in the arms of Spanish women….
Oh! Let me sleep with you!
My ghost keeps going,
For I meet none of my lovers,
who were seduced by French women,

who drank all the whisky 
in Brasil
(and are now in a drunken sleep),
and meet only cars that pass
with drivers who surprised
by my whiteness, flee.
The shy policemen, 
poor things! One wanted to grab me.
I opened my arms… Incredulous,
He felt me. There was no flesh
And outside the dress
And under the dress 
The same white absence,
A white anguish…
It is obvious: what was body
Was eaten by the cat.

The girls that are still alive
(they’ll die, you can be sure)
are afraid that I appear
and pull them down by their legs…
They’re wrong.
I was a girl, I will be a girl
Deserted, per omnia saecula.
I have no interest in girls.
Boys disturb me.
I don’t know how to free myself.
If only my ghost wouldn’t suffer,
if only they would like me.
If only the spirit would consent,
but I know it’s forbidden,
and you are flesh, I am mist.

A mist that dissolves
when the sun breaks in the mountains.
Now I feel better,
I’ve said everything I wanted to
I would climb that cloud, 
be a frozen sheet
sparkling over mankind.
But the stars will not understand,
nobody will understand,
my reflection in the pool
on Parauna Avenue.


 


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