Translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan

 

amelia, the real woman,
ran away with the bearded lady
balderdash!
they lived in a small hut
on the banks of the monkey arroyo
in pedra lascada, rio grande do sul

at first they were terribly isolated
they had no visitors
no television
they passed the time in close self-examination
because they’d gotten lice
and the place was infested with fleas

‘we’re free,’ amelia would say
throwing herself on the sofa
and sighing
the bearded lady sighed too
she sighed so much
she was soon deflated

‘you liked things better before?’
asked amelia, suspicious
she was afraid her companion
was dwelling on the circus
now that they spent their days
just the two of them in the hut

the bearded lady had always been a person
of few, precise words
she hardly ever spoke
she consented with a nod, shook her head
if she didn’t agree, like a simpleton
or someone who’d lost their tongue

the bearded lady simply didn’t feel
the need to discuss
every little everyday thing
this troubled amelia
and besides the fleas and lice
there were other insects up the wazoo

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‘i don’t even know who i live with’
said amelia, one day in the hut
‘i’m going out for cigarettes’
said the bearded lady
‘you’re not going anywhere’
said amelia, ‘sit your hairy
butt on the sofa
’cause I need to talk’
the bearded lady harumphed
but did what her partner asked

amelia talked about her childhood
in a town called black spot, rio grande do sul
and how she was the girl everyone desired
because she wasn’t vain at all
and at least five different boys
wanted to marry her
because she was low-maintenance
she got more miles to the gallon
etc etc etc

‘now tell me about the bearded lady’

lady   lady   lady
the bearded lady
hated that word
(almost as much as she hated
‘bearded lady’)
‘and if this nut
were my delilah?
what would i do?
where would i run?’

‘you know what’s good for the stomach?
artichoke tea’
is what the bearded lady heard
come out of her mouth

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mysterious black dots
invaded the space
before amelia’s eyes
‘enough,’ she said. ‘you don’t appreciate me’
and then, ‘get your hairy butt up off the sofa
and do something’
so the bearded lady got her hairy butt up
off the sofa and did something: she boarded a boat bearing a greek flag
the spontanyus kombustyon, and sailed away to join
the navy. she became admiral reapwhatyuso
no more was heard from him or her
amelia returned to black spot
where she was forgiv… promo… mar…

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Photograph © Thomas Hawk, 2006

Five Things Right Now: Evie Wyld
(nostalgia)