Saudade

for António Dinis Lopes

Fado singer Luciana Machado: ...something with a little sadness, a little longing, a little wistfulness, a little aching, a little happiness.

My friend from Lisbon says you can while away years trying to understand this one Portuguese word.

I'm listening to Mahler's 5th,
adagietto, the ten minutes of music
Visconti uses in Death in Venice to
make audible Aschenbach's beaded
anguish on the beach under an umbrella
or at his bedroom window longing for
Tadzio splashing in the water. Saudade
Portuguese says for what is wished for
and cannot be.

At the end of the Brazilian film Central Station, a childless woman on the bus repeats the word saudade twice in memory of the orphan boy whom she has returned to his brothers after a long treacherous journey to find the boy's father. The one she longs for, the one she protected like her own child, she must abandon.

A lost child. A lost lover. For anyone looking and longing for the loved one on the shore a fateful word encoils, succor for a troubled mind.

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