Translated from Portuguese by Alison Entrekin
The intimate life
of a ten-year-old girl
in Somalia (Somalia is somewhere
in this world, in this very same world):
her clitoris and vaginal labia are excised
then she is sewn up, leaving
only a small opening for urine and menstrual blood
the girl is bound until the skin between her legs
and the day she is ready for sex
or a respected woman in the community
will open her up again, slit her
as one would a piece of fruit, as one would
an envelope containing an important document
as a plane slits a cloud
as a cloud slits the sky.
~ Adriana Lisboa
Brazilian fictionist and poet Adriana Lisboa is the author of, among others, the novels ‘Crow Blue’ (an Independent book of the year), and ‘Symphony in White’ (winner of the Jose Saramago Prize). Her work has been translated into most major languages. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Granta, Modern Poetry in Translation, Litro Magazine, Brooklyn Rail and others.
Alison Entrekin is a literary translator from Portuguese. Her translations include ‘City of God’ by Paulo Lins; ‘The Eternal Son’ by Cristovão Tezza; ‘Near to the Wild Heart’ by Clarice Lispector; ‘Budapest’ and ‘Spilt Milk’ by Chico Buarque.
This poem (‘Neste mesmo mundo’ in the original Portuguese) remains © Adriana Lisboa, 2011. The editors wish to thank Literarische Agentur Mertin Inh. Nicole Witt e. K. (Frankfurt, Germany) for permission to print Alison Entrekin’s English translation.