Monday, May 9, 2011

Mamãe (excerpt from the beginning)

Tia Nastásia’s hair would go sshhh. It was pale gray and thin and it told me to stay quiet. It moved, though discretely and you only really noticed it when she wasn’t doing very much. I can imagine her leaning her back against the sink after cleaning the dishes, her body still and her gray hairs breathing like grass.

I had told tia Nastásia one day that the colors were changing and I missed the old ones. She told me that there was no such thing as old. But she was old. And I remember that on that day the blood under her eyes matched the pink of her scarf.

It was getting cold. At night I stuck my head under the sheets so that my breath would keep me warm. I missed Brazil and I didn’t like the new colors. I told tia Nastásia that this winter would poison me. I would turn into glass and soon I would be smooth and cold and if you touched me you’d bleed. Tia Nastásia replied by telling me that she had weighed another baby that day. My tia was a pediatrician. She weighed babies on metal scales like chicken breasts. The baby had cried until it no longer had any eyes. They had stuck inside its flushed face like buds that couldn’t flower. The scale was cold and the baby was naked.

That day while tia Nastásia cooked lunch, I lied on her couch and closed my eyes. I didn’t fall sleep and because of it I could tell when my eyes were getting closer to myself and then slowly farther. Most of the time they were farther because I was thinking too much.

“How was school today?” My tia had asked. I opened my eyes to the inordinate convex swell of her back as she sliced bananas at the kitchen counter. I told her that this boy Brett had left a few bras sticking out of his locker as a joke. She found it funny. Tia Nastásia had a sense of humor and I trusted her as a person because of it. She then asked me if I had been keeping in touch with my friends in Brasilia. I told her that I had. But I had been writing letters to people without sending them. They were kept in a journal and really they were letters to myself.

Tia Nastásia had made rice and beans, spinach, meat and farofa. She placed the cut bananas in a small clay bowl because she knew that I liked to mix bananas in with my rice and beans. Ever since I had moved, I got into the habit of putting bananas in my cereal. I had been eating cereal every morning, like the Americans did. I was addicted to the tasty American milk and I liked how sugary it got from the cereal flakes.

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