And now, Joseph, that there are so many blind people? Entrenched at the border traffic lights of a blank world, they advance with their weapons. Consolated, a bronze Drummond faces the goons in Copacabana, who attack him. This is not a good time for poets. No more free verse, laughter, the lightness of hope. No longer the Bahian friend, who today rests in the gardens of Casa do Rio Vermelho.
The bronze also holds them, still yours, Jorge and Zélia. In the open square in front of the beach, shaped in Dois de Fevereiro, this friendship that expanded overseas from an intense, whole old age. And now, Joseph, that there are so many blind people? From the ashes of fascism, ominous birds fly. With empty hands, and wounded fingers, we grope for a way out, before the horror defines itself in clear shapes in the dark of the century.
But you are tough, José, you resist. On the other side, in another plain, pray for us, contrite. In your atheist heaven, in your paradise without commas. What an infinite sea, this time will be. Horizons that we intuit, made of ports and languages that undo and redo their own rites. No longer the indigo that defines the distance between two countries, but another color that we attribute to the letters and books that cross the Atlantic.
The invasion of Brazil, the violence against native peoples. Our history is made of blood, José. And now? Do you remember the strong sun of the City of Bahia? Exu at the ready, guarding his back on the stairs of the Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado. The Festa de Iemanjá, and her feet in flip-flops, all the blue of the Rio Vermelho sea in the background. In white, white among blacks, the serious smile of a foreigner.
Armfuls of flowers carried by the waves, at Praia da Paciencia. Orders placed, orders accepted. The strong scent of lavender rising from the hampers. The beauty of all prose reflected in mirrors. The nameless faith that revealed, in the darkness, the veil of a future that, by a miracle, would make us immense. There are so many blind people, José, and now?
What will you tell us who saw them first?
*Text published in the anthology “Cartas da Bahia a José Saramago” (Pontes, 2023).