Uncle Porto

Porto is Lisboa’s maudlin uncle. He wears dusty brocades, moth-nibbled velvets, lace ruffs, and a monogramed smoking jacket. Sometimes he puts on a dressing gown of poppy-colored silk and recites passages from Os Lusíadas. He remembers raising a glass to its poet half a millennium ago. By day he wears only jewel tones: carnelian, emerald, citrine, topaz, and lapis lazuli. His stone façades are a noble old grey like tarnished silver.


He always smells of cigars and bergamot. He carries a pressed handkerchief because he is still a gentleman (even if the rest of the male species has forgotten the significance of a pressed square of fine linen). When he looks down at his reflection in the river, there’s a glint of the Baroque in his clerestory windows and wrought iron balconies. He looks like an Old Master’s study for ‘Quayside in Oils.’


Lisboa is a little girl beside her grizzled Uncle Porto. He stood firm against the 1755 earthquake and still stands several stories taller than his niece. His travessas and becos (lanes and alleys) are draped in a perpetual twilight that seems to have lingered from medieval evenings. He’s so steeped in Port wine I fell lightheaded just breathing his air. I haven’t touched a drop but already I’m drunk on the city of Porto.


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