Postcard from Florianopolis, Brazil


Saturday is family day in Brazil, and everyone goes to the nearest park. Wanting to fit in, I join them: riding my bicycle along the silt-sand crescent shore on the way to the botanical garden I stop for caldo de cana, sugarcane juice with lime squeezed fresh by the vendor who says “Bom dia, senora, tudo bem?” “All is well?” At the garden I glimpse the orange flash of a rare toucan tucked into the broad-leaved palms above my head, while beneath a family picnics in the central square of flowing grass. On their blanket a Brazilian feast: fresh sliced mango, passion fruit, sumptuous treats of pão de queijo (puffy balls of breaded cheese) and brigadeiro chocolate tortes. The eldest child starts pouring out cups of cashew milk. The middle child puts her face inside the empty oval of an outdoor sculpture in the garden shaped like open pages and says “Look Mamãe, I’m a book, come read me!” While Uncle in local colors of blue and white stripes for his home team known as “Lion of the Island” guides a soccer ball expertly round the mirroring lake. Auntie points and tells the baby “Those birds are called quero-quero, because their cries call out incessantly ‘I want, I want!’” So as daylight fades I push my tourist bike along the circled path and out the garden gate toward home and ready meals for one, with directions all in Portuguese which I am learning phrase by lilting labyrinthine phrase.

M. Lee Alexander is the author of the collection Spinning the Compass (Aquillrelle, 2018), and two chapbooks, Observatory, and Folly Bridge. Her work has won awards including the Yeovil Literary Prize. She teaches creative writing including Poetry and Creative Nonfiction at William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

Appears In

Issue 8.1

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