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Durcan
Paul Durcan
b.1944

"Fernando's Wheelbarrows, Copacabana"
(From "Greetings To Our Friends In Brazil" 1999)

FERNANDO'S WHEELBARROWS, COPACABANA
are at Rue Vinicius de Moraes 208
at the Ipanema end of Copacabana

Akimbo in a wheelbarrow in Copacabana
I am a gringo sober as a judge
Grey-souled as my father who was a judge.
I am waiting for Fernando
To wheel me up and down the beach.
Fernando does not speak a word of English
Nor I of Portugese.
Fernando's forbears were slaves from Senegal.
Fernando is a free man, proudest of the proud.

Because Fernando believes that good manners
Are the highest grade of ethical behaviour
That is an article of faith with Fernando
I have requested that Fernando
Be my guide in Copacabana:
My guide, my governor, my master.

Every morning at seven o'clock after Mass
Fernando wheels me up and down the beach
At Copacabana in the silence of the dead;
Fernando is the silentest man in Copacabana
Just as I am the silentest man in Dublin.
Our climaxes are meeting and parting.
I rejoice in the remote way Fernando shakes my hand.
I rejoice in the comatose stars of Fernando's eyes.
I rejoice in the reticence of Fernando's laughter.

The only time Fernando breaks his silence
Is at the midpoint of our giro;
Fernando reveals to me his dream
Of emigrating to Phoenix, Arizona.
Fernando has a young wife and children.
He explains by means of his hands
And by two words Phoenix, Arizona.
His hands with rhetorical ebullience exhort:
Phoenix, Arizona is the good life!

© Paul Durcan
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