Festa de São João

Kevin Cutrer

USA

They tell me the banked fires
on every street corner tonight
reveal in smoke and tears the face
of the one you are meant to marry.

Countless ancestors
peered through ribbons of soot,
starlight blurs in their eyes,
to look upon the man God would provide.

The smoke never revealed
the life she would marry into:
sob of the accordion,
pity of the town, living martyr

of faithfulness, the good wife
and keeper of the children, washwoman
tending clothes that brought home
the rouge and scent of the other woman.

Tonight young women wander
the flickering swelter, shoot
cachaça from cans, dance
to the sob of the accordion,

the triangle’s alarm. They won’t know
the stranger by his face, nor will they
have heard his name in the snap
of logs succumbing to the flames.