In the silent watches of night,

my heart sank in subliminal depths:

she had drifted away from the shores of life.

A flood of thoughts invaded my mind.

--she has always been my obscure passion--

I remembered the first time, I sat at her

feet in awe, worshipping her past, bowing

to the fire I could see on the palms of her

warrior hands.

Behind those eyes,

History had another name.

She taught me to spell it bleeding.

(I knew she had talents to madness

and anger)

I learnt to keep my conscience warped,

unleashing my claws, sharpening the blade

of hatred with care.

I inherited her unnatural rigidity, uncomplaining

patience and uncommon spice for disobedience.

Those were years of thunder and rage

and I was a hopeless angry little girl

but she taught me to clad my soul in armor,

I blossomed in mud and in mud we fought.

They had painted monstrosities upon

the walls of our hearts.

--we never knelt down, never--

One day, they arrested her.

She was tortured like a man.

(it was what they said)

She survived time and death,

embracing infinity, retreating

into her own shadow.


Her smile was no smile anymore.

But her eyes were still radiant

as the eyes of a saint.

She had known the darkness of the path,

cursing the setting sun and the guilty serpents.

She had known the purity of despair.

Her purposes were eternal as this flag

I now bathe with my own tears.

Behind those eyes,

History stared at the perpetual night

and succumbed to intangible ashes.

Behind those eyes,

my past, my life, my pain.

Karla Bardanza

*This poem is a tribute to Vera Silvia Magalhaes, Iara Iavelberg, Dinalva Oliveira Teixeira, Lucia Maria de Souza, Maria Lucia Petit and all the Brazilian women who fought against dictatorship and died for my country.

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