Sunday morning
 roof tiles softened
 by the cold white skin
 a young dark brown robin 
 spins its neck 
 — seeking a route
 to flee
 fabric softener’s warmth and breath
 crossing the bordering wall
 two women chatting 
 topics that I only speculate
 a child mumbling in the distance
 phrases without structure 
 a door opens or closes
 — on the wintry morning
 everything is arrival or departure

 On the streets after quarantine 
 We relearn the grass, weeds, dandelions,
 tangled in the street bench. 
 We calculate distance, protection radius.
 The trees breasts, full and vernal, have always    
 given these masks against the sun?
 On the sidewalks, shining over cobblestones,
 oranges or tangerines, bloating, rotting, eaten by maggots. 
 See the street, steep and narrow, is what we used to call loneliness. 
 We are children again. 
 We point out everything, trying to record names. 
 We call the square—square, tree—tree, pond—pond.
 We look at each other, uncertainty in our eyes. 
 Are the words right to begin this new world?
 The miserable are still miserable. 
 Who are those walking beside us? 
 We buy bread and coffee.
 Do they still have the same name?
 A new language is necessary. 

Rafael Mendes is a poet and translator born in Brazil and currently living in Ireland. His work has appeared on The Poetry Programme, The Irish Times, FLARE, The Blue Nib, “Writing Home: The New Irish Poets” (Dedalus Press, 2019), “Arrival at Elsewhere” (Against the Grain, 2020) and many other journals and magazines in Brazil, Europe and the USA.

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