Two poems by Angélica Freitas

at eleven years old ]

at eleven years old

behind my grandmother’s house

in fishing village z-3

i smoked a gol cigarette bought

singly in a boteco

where the salesgirl knew my mother

the salesgirl looked at me sideways

but gave me the cigarette all the same

and there in the kitchen garden

my sister a cousin and i

took our first puffs

it was really bad

fear kicked the joy

out of the five-centavo gol

that one of us flicked away

at the sound of an aunt a dog or

the wind through the collard greens



the goldmine of my mum & my aunt

it was called

administration island

or middle island

where the two of them sold

avon cosmetics

arriving by motor boat

with bundles of products

lipstick mascara perfume

and most of all rouge

they were received

by big-haired moustachioed


dishcloths on their shoulders

snotty children in their laps

my mum & my aunt proceeded

with the beautifying of the natives

restoring colour

to their faces

the whole spectrum of colours

of an evening sky

at lagoa dos patos

blues and purples and oranges and pinks

then they lent them


the housewives of middle island

bought a lot of makeup

my mum & my aunt

left loaded with cash



Written by Angélica Freitas and translated by Hilary Kaplan.

Angélica Freitas (b. 1973) is the author of Rilke Shake (2007). She co-edits the poetry journal Modo de Usar & Co. and lives in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Poet and translator Hilary Kaplan received a 2011 PEN Translation Fund grant for her translation of Rilke Shake. Her translations appear in PEN America, World Literature Today, Rattapallax and Two Lines. She is completing her PhD on contemporary poetics and environmental culture at Brown University.

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