Com que voz
i.m. Amaliá Rodrigues, fadista (1920-99)


Full of themselves, the hands debark in pairs
just as the bells clang (out of sync),
rattling odd storks, extolling a dawn chorus
of Nike trainers squeaking on the gangplank.
A vibraphone of fishscales. In that voice.

As gravid widows keen at wayside shrines
for sodden bedmates (blanked out eyes
engorged with brine), and the black ocean's
unplumbed generosity rolls breathless crews
back up the Tagus, add your grave voice.

At ebb and flow, neap-tide or full spring,
let it ring flawlessly out from Alfama's
huddled alleys up to Portimão, and sing
the sardine harvests home to trawler-owners,
canners, paté-makers in your richest voice.

Unblurred, unhindered by the umpteen years
of lissom smoke-rings levitating
into the rafters of garrulous full-houses
from saffron finger-ends (twelve-string
guitar plucked like a lute), ascendant voice.

Fresh westerlies riffle through spiked bills
for aguardientes in the sidestreet bars
where coy Benfica players cup their balls
in faded pictures, where jukeboxes loose
what must be fado's preternatural voice

now that the Pantheon resounds with yours.




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