In Brief

“9h53min” Iacyr Anderson Freitas, trans. Desirée Jung

He had a very important meeting at 11 a.m. and there were still a hundred kilometers to go. A terrible highway, apparently abandoned, where the undergrowth had already taken the entire shoulder extension and from where, now and then, through the dead fractures of the asphalt, the dry branches shook its bony arches.

From minimum one also lives.

— Fernando Fiorese

 

He had a very important meeting at 11 a.m. and there were still a hundred kilometers to go. A terrible highway, apparently abandoned, where the undergrowth had already taken the entire shoulder extension and from where, now and then, through the dead fractures of the asphalt, the dry branches shook its bony arches. It had been a while since a road sign, a house or a gas station was seen. No other car passed, by the way. He was alone and, on his account, very late. It was risky going through there, such a precarious and unknown stretch, at a hundred and twenty kilometers per hour. But now he had no choice. Why did he listen to the advice of a truck driver? Rather he bore a few kilometers more on the main road, lit in red on the map where that short cut didn’t even appear, if it had been chosen.

Turning his wrist, he tried again to check the time. His watch brought him a strange heat. There it was the same previous mark, useless. The pointers thrust in the dark clay of time, inert and cold. Nine fifty-three. In absolute consonance with that strange place, even his wrist compass showed no more sign of life. Feeling a slight pressure on his shoulders, he noticed, enjoying himself a bit, that the force which moved that small set of gears, with its mute fire of minutes and seconds, had been, like everything else, lost in some remote point of the road. “Time remained on the way, in the past, from where it might no longer be rescued.”

That absurd idea, which came to his head as a joke, caused him a delicate discomfort. As if an invisible current pulled him, little by little, to forgetfulness. He looked at his watch again. Nine fifty-three. The collapsed and empty road, the thick undergrowth narrowing the black asphalt spine, the car at a hundred and twenty kilometers per hour and he having to guess the time through the position of the sun or its shadow. Certainly, this wasn’t the best of the worlds.


Feeling a slight pressure on his shoulders, he noticed, enjoying himself a bit, that the force which moved that small set of gears, with its mute fire of minutes and seconds, had been, like everything else, lost in some remote point of the road.


His discomfort grew more and more. That strangeness of having to remove his watch without a warning, and, costly, squeeze from his own face the juicy weld of the years. Like, suddenly, being obliged to have lunch only when hungry, for example. Go to work only because there is really a serious reason for going to work – and not because the opening sky is of a Tuesday and it’s already seven thirty in the morning. Be forced to consult some of the other infinite clocks that strike inside his body, the bones, tearing the skin of his arm or neck minute by minute. From the deep of his abandonment, something told him that the world had been like this once. That others had measured the succession of time by the course of winds or rains. That this permission was a vertiginous and terrible happiness. And that it was needed, to keep winning each meter of that strange road; it was of the utmost importance, from that moment until the end of his days, to move it immediately away from his eyes, whatever the cost.

 

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Do mínimo também se vive.

   —    Fernando Fiorese

 

Tinha uma reunião importantíssima às onze horas e ainda faltavam mais de cem quilômetros de estrada. Uma rodovia péssima, aparentemente abandonada, onde o mato já tomara toda a extensão do acostamento e onde, de quando em quando, pelas fraturas mortas do asfalto, os galhos secos sacudiam suas arcadas ossudas. Havia muito que não se avistava qualquer placa de sinalização, uma casa ou um posto de abastecimento. Nenhum veículo passava, aliás. Ele estava só e, pelas contas, atrasadíssimo. Era um risco transitar por ali, num trecho tão precário e desconhecido, a cento e vinte por hora. Mas agora não possuía outra saída. Por que aceitara o conselho de um caminhoneiro? Antes tivesse suportado alguns quilômetros a mais, caso a estrada principal, acesa em vermelho no mapa onde aquele atalho sequer aparecia, fosse a escolhida.

Girando o pulso, tentou de novo conferir as horas. O relógio trouxe-lhe um calor estranho. Lá estava, inútil, a mesma marcação anterior. Os ponteiros fincados na argila escura do tempo, inertes e frios. Às nove horas e cinqüenta e três minutos. Em consonância absoluta com aquele estranho lugar, também a sua bússola de pulso não mostrava mais sinal algum de vida. Sentindo uma leve pressão nos ombros, ele percebeu, divertindo-se um pouco, que a força que movia aquele pequeno conjunto de engrenagens, com seu mudo incêndio de minutos e segundos, ficara, tal qual tudo o mais, perdida em algum ponto remoto da estrada. “O tempo restou pelo caminho, no pretérito, de onde talvez não possa ser mais resgatado.”

Essa idéia absurda, que lhe veio à cabeça em tom de brincadeira, causava-lhe um delicado desconforto. Como se uma corrente invisível o puxasse, pouco a pouco, para o esquecimento. Olhou outra vez o relógio. Nove horas e cinqüenta e três minutos. Em seu pulso, doravante, qualquer indício lhe diria que, antes de tudo, seria preciso romper o portal daquelas nove horas e cinqüenta e três minutos. A estrada derruída e vazia, o mato espesso estreitando o negro espinhaço do asfalto, o carro a cento e vinte quilômetros por hora e ele tendo de adivinhar o tempo através da posição do sol ou da sombra. Decerto não era esse o melhor dos mundos.

Crescia mais e mais o seu desconforto. Aquele estranhamento de, sem qualquer aviso, ter de deitar fora o relógio e, a custo, espremer de seu próprio rosto o soldo sumarento dos anos. Assim de repente, por exemplo, ser obrigado a almoçar apenas quando sentir fome. Ir ao trabalho porque há mesmo um motivo muito sério para ir ao trabalho – e não porque o céu que se abre é de uma terça-feira e já são sete e meia da matina. Ser forçado a consultar alguns dos outros, dos infinitos relógios que percutem dentro de seu corpo, nos ossos, e esgarçam, minuto a minuto, a pele do braço ou do pescoço. Algo lhe dizia, do fundo de seu abandono, que o mundo já fora assim algum dia. Que outros mediram a sucessão do tempo pelo rumo dos ventos ou das chuvas. Que essa licença era de uma vertiginosa e terrível felicidade. E que era preciso, para continuar vencendo cada metro daquele estranho caminho, era de suma importância, naquele momento e até o fim de seus dias, custasse o preço que custasse, afastá-la imediatamente de seus olhos.


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Desirée Jung has published translations, poetry and short stories in North American magazines and others around the world. Among them are Exile, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Antigonish Review, Belleville Park Pages. Her book of short stories, Desejos Submersos, is published by Chiado Editora, in Portugal. She has received a film degree at the Vancouver Film School, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of British Columbia. Her website is www.desireejung.com.

 

 

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Iacyr Anderson Freitas was born in Patrocínio do Muriaé, Minas Gerais, in 1963. Civil Engineer graduate by the University Federal of Juiz de Fora, the poet also obtained his Masters Degree in Theory of Literature from the same institution. He has published many books of poetry, literary essays and prose, having received many prizes in Brazil and overseas. His work has been translated into several languages and countries, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Spain, USA, France, Italy, Malta, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Peru, Portugal and Venezuela. Besides being a collaborator in the Brazilian press, he has also published poems and critical texts in Private and Semicerchio (Italy), Rimbaud Revue (France), Arquitrave and Comun Presencia (Colombia), Fokus (Malta), International Poetry Review (USA), Los Rollos del mal muerto (Argentina), O comércio do Porto and Saudade (Portugal), Fórnix (Peru) and Serta (Spain), among others.