by Adélia Prado, translated by Ellen Doré Watson

What grand luxury to be poor by choice,
temptation to be God who has nothing,
immeasurable pride.
Which is why I’m reminded
that many will enter the Kingdom before me:
thieves, bad poets,
and, worse, the flunkeys who praise them.
I’m distressed by the thought
that kings belong in palaces
and workers in factories and warehouses.
A stiff sentence awaits
those who, like me,
are dazzled by a light so bright!
I know a bad line when I see one,
when it shows no sign that it escaped
from the unknown margins of the soul.
Is it pride or joy
that possesses me, unrecognizable,
masquerading in rags?
It can only be love that fuels
the wearisome task of searching for pearls,
tracing a millennial lineage in coats of arms.
No one knows how to talk about the poor.

Published on February 8, 2012