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  • Malu Baumgarten


Underwater there is a ship full of treasure and white bones

of men whose flesh has been long eaten by fish and moved away by the streams.

Fish don’t eat gold and the sun is too far away to shine the yellow coins.

Underwater, the treasure is as good as garbage.

My mother too, lives under the water,

and to see her I go to the ocean and travel on an open wagon that goes five kilometres

over the breakwaters, impelled here by the wind on its sails, there by the muscle power of tanned men who push it on the tracks.

On the very end of the breakwaters is the top of the sea of Rio Grande, and there I

can see my mother, talk to her, and be her too.

The Atlantic Ocean hugs the water breakers, and boats big and small live on this sea. Seen from afar, the huge structures of the Super Port are less menacing and more pathetic, simple ugliness involved by beauty.

Along the breakwaters, starving dogs, sad and diseased gaze at the visitants,

too weak to run for food scraps.

By the end of the water breakers, on the top of the sea that guards my mother,

I can see the long, long strip of sand, the longest beach in the world, they say.

I only know that my mother lives underwater because I lay her there myself, together with my sisters.

Her ashes and her songs we spread in the water and over the rocks, and the water came licking the rocks. I lay her there, in the sea she loved, to become a marine bird or Atlantic turtle (I saw the turtle coming from under the sun that divides the waters, right where her ashes hit the sun and the water.)

I go to the waters to see the turtle and tell her my joy and my sorrow.

Under the water there is a ship full of treasure and white bones, but I only go there for the turtle.

My mother had no bones, and turtles do not eat gold. Under the water, the treasure is as good as garbage, and the real jewels lie on the sun where it divides the waters. There, on the top of her ocean, I see my mother and the turtle, talk to her, sing her songs, and become her. One day I will lie in that ocean, and then my body will again be one with hers, and I will be the turtle too.

There, under the frigid water of the Atlantic Ocean, licking the long sands off the sea of Rio Grande.

Text ©Malu Baumgarten, 2011

Images ©Malu Baumgarten, 2007

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