Nuno Júdice Play of Reflections 1997

Poems published in:
«La grande crue», peintures de Manuel Amado, Chandeigne, 2001


A luminous reflection dies on the waters
of summer. Algae proliferate on their 
texture, drinking the window’s last
glare. The room encloses me in a white
architecture. I breathe a cadence of drowned 
sheets. An inner voice spells oval 
metres, which I repeat along the verse’s 
monotonous flow. This light, however, 
hangs on melancholy bones. Her eyes harbour
a wing beat’s sob. Her mouth imprisons the nocturnal 
scream of sundown-wounded animals. I take
her fingers and draw her to the sun: an angel
that grows pale under the day’s fire! I feel
her short-lived glow; and then leave behind that
evening-enshrouded corpse, trading 
its skin of moss for the marble of the sentence,
the tactile coldness of stone. 


I study a shipwreck of horizons:
absences stamped on apathetic gold, 
mists scattered on the image’s flakes. I imagine
the glass line emerging through 
dawn: the sun’s fingers fierily
stretch, shattering their limits. I dream 
that a life may exist on the other side
of the casements: a frame of sensations
slowly rotting, with the sluggish noise
of invulnerable murmurs. I placed
these dead colours on my lap; I rocked 
them in the white arms of the balustrade. 
I listened to their complaints: one final void
after the rain, when all the gutters have stopped


A residue of music crumbles on your plaster 
shoulders. Fragments I shake off the skin
with a duster of wind; an oblique gaze
in sexual indecision. I lost a shudder
of tides while crossing the patio
of your voice. I picked the words one by one,
like leaves dragged by sundown’s vague
flow. I laid them on the table of morning,
well spread, so that the first sunlight
would dry them. With the heat, they flew
up to your lips: they begged you to open them,
to receive each one of their syllables,
to drink their consonants’ acid liqueur.
Once out of the lips, the words
die with a mossy groan. I ran
after them, with a butterfly collector’s 
yearning. I saw them slip through my fingers;
and wiped a residue of sounds on the foam of song. 


The roots convey to me the temptation of the soil, 
a glow of subterranean echoes, the blind drive
of the fingers opening a path at
the centre. I descend with them, in search
of fertile waters, muddy banks,
a lacustrine embrace in endless depths. 
The roots teach me the course of spring,
even if that forces me to take 
a direction that is opposite to the light,
to the morning’s dry air, to the branches that host
this year’s first birds. At their end,
where the rocks start,
you cannot hear singing or anticipate, 
in the buds that multiply among
the leaves, a future blossoming of colours. 
Still, at each inflorescence the wind causes 
the root’s glory to dance; and a natural joy 
emanates from the branch when sap runs through it
- darkness hatching from the instant’s transparency,
intimate ecstasy of the invisible in the flower’s


Nothing that is shown can convey the truth
of the instant: a navigation of angles,
through the hum of a harsh

Then, I pick the ash’s fruits. 
It is as if their flavour formed
on one’s fingers; and the black juice of soot 
ran into the blood,
into the house.

But no-one has closed the window.
The wind has no need to push
its casements; and weeping
has drawn the curtains among
a swarm of confidences. 

Everything you told me
fitted that exact instant,
which time has covered with
the weight of its waters. 


Beneath a must of clouds fermentation
changes the being. An aerial mud cocoon
releases him from the earth; but the igneous dream 
goes out in the wet shroud. The crows’ barge
passed in front of him; the girl at the prow
stared at him with her ivory eyes. But he 
slept, or else simply waited to be called;
he did not ask the question that could prevent
souls from sprouting grass, nor heard the sweet laughter
of the women on their way to the autumn 
harvests. The ship sank; the girl floats,
her open eyes mirroring the blue void on
their transparent sockets; laughter dried up 
on the lips of the weeders of reflections,
inebriated with the dead images of November.
Drop by drop, his life fills the cup
of the instant.     


Even those who lose themselves in the poem’s
circumstantial atria, pushing the doors
and ransacking obscurity, know not
out of which image the centre 
irradiates. There is, however, a path that
leads there: among trees and birds,
listening to what was called ‘the music
of the spheres,’ or shutting one’s ears to those
who ask: ‘Where are you going? What do you carry
in your pockets? Who do you expect to find?’ The answer will lie
in the silence you may offer;
in a song’s conviction amidst the turbulence 
of the labyrinth. Then, you shall touch the ending stone:
the marble’s first person in the conjugation 
of bodies.


You show me the path of the bottom:
those stairs one climbs down until there 
are no other stairs; the boundary of air and water,
earth and fire. This is where light
ends: exhausted reflections, longing
for shade. 

I climb down the stairs without you: arms
that break in declining perspective,
a gaze drowned in memory’s submarine
alphabets. Then, I look for you
in the mirror’s contour. A glass sheet
mists over with your absence.   

I forget everything, in the end. Only
light survives in every corner, as if
all lines had slipped
through the verses. 


In the reverse instant, night becomes
too exhausted for moss. A rotation 
of creepers invades the spirit,
hindering the movements of the soul, slowly
absorbing the sentences dreamed by
the lips. Then, all the bushes 
grow. A proliferation of mists
darkens the skin: blotches as clear
as the photographic print of a flight 
of insects in the mothers’ liquid. They descend
into the earth’s body; they fuse with
memories, goddesses, the last
moles’ oestrus. I gather them into
a bottle of opaque glass. Their eyes stare 
at me in cold placenta blackness.


A distillation of darkness: its black
light falls on the weight of other lights,
the dead reflection of ancient universes,
leaving behind the echo that will not return. 

A glow at the bottom 
of the sunset: the horizon’s bloody deed,
a vague planet’s curvature among
the hesitations of one looking for his way. 

Then, the resignation of those who understand
eternity: the frailest flower in the fingers
of a melancholy angel, whose flight has vanished
in the turbulence of the fall. 


What plain conceals the likeness 
of things and beings? Now
that a sun moves across the lime’s whiteness,
revealing those filaments of darkness the day
conceals, so many hills rise between 
one horizon and the other! The only visible 
thing is the arch at the labyrinth’s exit,
tracing the perfect circle that announces 
the final ends. Out of every door, as from
the temporary dwelling of those who passed,
faces emerge, unseen by us, spying
a transhumance of unemployed prophets. I call
their names: I spell out each syllable with
its full sounds, as if thus the bodies
could reunite again, free
from the ritual mutilation of initial dawns. But
the dust remains under the mud, and the mud
persists under the weight of sunken barges,
fragments of oars, and the abstract
murmurs of a shadowy navigation. Then,
which of the doors should I choose? What
blurred entity awaits me behind the glass?
No voice shows me the way. 


I push the door of the diurnal hemisphere.
I invoke the logic of solar explanations,
the thirst for a sublime rhetoric,
the acid pleasure of a pair of 
morning lips on which the
word bursts like the sunset’s 
black flower. I enter the yard
devastated by the fire of the figures,
I throw them to the ground of the sentence,
revealing a line of pedestals
loaded with the image’s 
silence. What river has dried up inside it? 
What shadow keeps the figure’s heart
from beating with the ancient force of love? 
Why have you yielded to the dawn’s unclean star,
as if the night’s limpidity
were not enough to slake your thirst 
for plenitude? Earth’s prey: rootless 
trunk, centre without a sphere. Pure 
presence of nothing. 


A bird has leapt off the stanza’s
branches. Uncertain about which 
direction to take, it scrutinises the wind,
as if the north were not part of its course. 
With it go singing, the interrupted music
of morning, the joy of a laughter 
broken like the riverside bush. Its voice
shuts like the deserted house
in the portent.