Despair, Saudade


"Saudade" the heart whispers in low tones
but I decide to ignore it
"Saudade" the heart cries
but I wipe its tears with numbness
"Saudade!" the heart screams in agony
and only then do I see
how deep the heart feels

I feel beliefs that I do not hold.
I am ravished by passions I repudiate.
–Fernando Pessoa

We’re surrounded by people
who sentimentalize collegiate life,
swoon over first marriages,
would kill to return to Rome, or
wish for the restitution of days
gone by, or worse, days
they’ve never known.
(The Portuguese have a word for it,
saudade, a longing for lost things.)
For myself, I have fond memories
of houses in New England
(where my childhood
blossomed, disappeared);
of a life of the mind,
of places for a brief time mine.
But the only thing I long for
is the old cherry tree,
in front of our home
— we were newly wed —
how it dashed its branches
against our roof.