I never lose myself in Lisboa because my polestar is wanderlust and it never leads me astray. I always find the next chapter of the story.


In the Bairro Alto neighborhood I have a room with a skylight that clothes my bed in white sunshine. After a meandering day, I aim vaguely for the Bairro Alto, but become trapped in the labyrinthine complex of São Jose hospital. Retracing my steps, I meet an ebony-eyed boy with a tiny puppy. The pup is still in his womb sleep, eyes sealed against the boy’s world. In high school Spanish I ask the puppy’s name. ‘Peitro,’ answers the boy uncertainly. What a peculiar creature he met today, this alien with her misshapen words, a faceless shadow under her wide-brimmed black hat.


The Portuguese literary superhero Fernando Pessoa wrote:

“Minha Pátria é a língua portuguesa.”

(My country is the Portuguese language.)

My country, Senhor Pessoa, is the voyage between languages.




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