I Am a Fado Song
Disguised beneath a shawl of antique lace
or within a black shirt of the required style,
I have the gift and its curse:
my tradition is to perform miracles.
I raise the dead. Melody and memory conjure my spells; I croon
reluctant shadows back to life. My rhythms seduce stilled hearts to beat
and tepid blood to pulse. I thrust bodies into motion.
But I am also the assassin who sobs. Melody and longing weave my snare;
high-pitched tinkles are the strands of my garrote. Sibilance is my dagger;
my softest tremolos are my deepest lunges. Hear my glissandos, swoon, then fear.
With flourishes, cadenzas and caesuras, and certain lifts
of the chin and a ritual turn of the hand, I raise up some
then put down others of these Lazaruses.
I am a sorcerer compelled to serve the cult of the coração.
The rush of the tides and echoes of all the sea lanes,
those of antiquity and those of empire and drowned hopes,
those of journeys begun and those abandoned,
are gathered at Lisboa and well up in my voice.
Pain, not time, measures life; marks truly the passing of the stars.
My audience rises, dances, claps and performs the chorus,
and many eclipse the performers on the stage.
I am their stories lisped to the surest transit.
An unending brew, fermenting anew with each generation,
with currents of flamenco swirls and the effervescence of vinho verde,
I am the drink called grief and remembrance of grief,
and the bitter-black, bitter-sweet chocolate called saudade.
Drink me and weep. Drink not; live not.
Africa is come to Algarve, quavers penetrate the night;
Portugal is come to its soul, and its tears are what I am.
Amalia, mi alma; I am in thy throat; my heart is thine.