literature, poetry, and social distancing

periferias 5 | public, environmental, and democratic health

illustration: Juliana Barbosa

"Once" and "Plot"

Yara Monteiro

| Angola |

translated by Stephanie Reist


When you were a beast of the sky,
a beast of the water, a beast of the bush, a beast of the core? 
the entirety of our home, ancient time
where life blossomed? 
Our bodies made of earth, 
Our gestures free, colorful, irrigated
with the saliva of turf. 
Gestures still to analyze, strucutre, 
Together with yours, which are ours, 
pulsating immersed
making world, creating cosmos? 
Us, the ones from the beginning. 


In my lap
you suckeled
the green sap of my jars.
You sucked
much of the living flow transmutated in cocoons. 
You sniffed out
between the hills 
the thriving of flowering fields, thickened forests. 
You groped
the divine paths opened by the rivers in this vast body. 
You opened 
cracks, wounds, 
eager for more, always more, 
hungry creature. 
Not even goodbye could I bid you. 
Today you arrive and slay me. 


You don’t remember. 

….and it was I who birthed you.




To erect yourself you settled your feet into my shoulders. 
You left me with a broad stride 
in loamy ochre

Decimate brush, 
decimate bush. 


Decimate, the brush
and the bush. 

The fangs of the flows
in the fur
penetrate the brush, 
the bush. 



Wap! Vap!
Crack! Prac! Prec! 


Without treetops, 
wild shrubs, 
living rivers. 

Without breath fluttering, 
walking and navigating.

I sing a funeral song. 

I sieze my body

I split.


Yara Monteiro | Angola |

Yara Monteiro was born in Angola, in the province of Huambo in 1979. In 2018, she published her first novel, “This Woman Beats Bulls!” (Guerra e Paz Editores), which explores questions of identity, gender, colonialism, and diaspora. She is a commentator for the RDP Africa radio program “Avenida Marginal” and directing member of INMUNE-Black Woman Institute in Portugal. She has lived in Luanda, London, Copenhagan, Rio de Janeiro and Athens. Currently, she is based in Alentejo, Portugal.


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