Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Breakfast time in Fortaleza

Home again, absorbed in waves of overripe cajús. Loud conversations rattle and topple over each other at breakfast. Our hands and feet are kept warm by the moist wind that tastes heavily of salt. I quickly down cups of guava juice, to which my stomach loudly gurgles. The biting sugar breaks and widens the stuck, hard corners of my sleepy eyes. I know the day has begun because I hear the gas hiss and escape from Tio Byron's coca-cola can. I let milky tapiocas soak up my mouth until they taste pasty and thick. The kitchen door constantly croaks and whines, allowing the full and bitter smell of fried cheese to channel through. Our bellies feel heavy and lumpy, and serve to remind us that we're so full that we must eat more. I await Flávio's presence as I hear his clumsily loud, spread-out steps approach me, and when he does, he smells of chestnut-flavored popsicles. The wailing wind inhabits him as he speaks. And we all continue like this, in never-ending gorging on foods and talk. Until the day coils under its smells - my aunt's impossibly sweet perfumes, the plastic of toys, the burnt cheese, the leftover milk and the ripening salt that sticks to the walls.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

dreaming with hands

I dreamt that I had walked into a vast room with cages and cages of hands, all aligned into a perfect grid. Women, with their mountainous hats and deep black dresses blown from the hip, shuffled along the aisles. A white metallic light coated the floors and the cages' bony metal bands. Occasionally, the figure of a thin man in a square-fit suit appeared as a lamppost among the black and white batting of bosoms and flounced skirts. I did not move. I waited until the people slowly sifted, until I was left with a few clicking heels - their sounds clear and full, in control of their own echoes. Now mainly hands were gloved in light. I first looked at them as a group: all erect upon small pedestals, their fingers soflty bending back and forth, as plants waving in the wind. One hand specifically caught my eye: its tawny palm bublous and swollen, making its lines markedly dark, calling attention to their braid-like patterns that bled slightly along their edges. I became exasperated by this hand - by the way it shyly curled its index finger inward, by the way a freckle nestled in between two folds of skin and by the way the bitter light carved into it like a pit. I needed to read and know this hand. I began to perspire in between my fingers. I paced the aisles - one hand, one stranger, after another. My hands were slippery. Maps and maps of skin looking at me with no eyes. I felt a splash of wet on my thigh. I looked at my hands: two soapy flushed webs of bubbly skin collapsing unto the floor.