06 December 2015

Maria Elvira discovered she had a pretty mouth

by Manuel Bandeira


...Misael, civil servant in the Ministry of Labor, 63 years old,
...Knew Maria Elvira of the Grotto: prostitute, syphilitic, with ulcerated fingers, a pawned wedding ring and teeth in the last stages of decay.
...Misael took Maria out of "the life," installed her in a two-storey house in Junction City, paid for the doctor, dentist, manicurist .... He gave her everything she wanted.
...When Maria Elvira discovered she had a pretty mouth, she immediately took a boy-friend.
... Misael didn't want a scandal. He could have beaten her, shot her, or stabbed her. He did none of these: they moved.
...They lived like that for three years.
... Each time Maria Elvira took a new boy-friend, they moved.
...The lovers lived in Junction City. Boulder. On General Pedra Street, The Sties. The Brickyards. Glendale. Pay Dirt. On Marques de Sapucai Street in Villa Isabel. Niteri.
Euphoria. In Junction City again, on Clapp Street. All Saints. Carousel. Edgewood. The Mines. Soldiers Home ...
...Finally, in Constitution Street, where Misael, bereft of sense and reason, killed her with six shots, and the police found her stretched out, supine, dressed in blue organdy.

Translated by Elizabeth Bishop.

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