A View of Fazenda Garcia, Salvador, Bahia • Rick Kearns

“Open your arms, if you desire to be embraced.”
• Rumi, Love Poems

Tropical brown-skinned people
walk up steep streets
of ocean blue collar Fazenda Garcia,
Salvador Bahia
going from one side
to the other in a
casual zig-zag
up the long hill it is
no big deal

It’s how you get there

A straight line up a hill like that,
on a map anyway
would seem the shortest route.
But it is the ancient
criss-crossing pattern
The helix of surviving
the next hill
that allows some
en route.

And while you’re going
you call out greetings
or are called inside
for a coffee or a cerveja
bem gelada

Or to check on
your godmother’s son.

Maybe for a nice
bit of gossip
or a loving harangue
about your nighttime

Up the hilly streets
through the dense warren
of adobe plaster houses

of 2, 3, 4 stories spinning
off one another sit
a gente, the people, on balconies,
curbsides, leaning out of
windows all colors, mostly
dark-skinned beautiful
people, young girls & boys,
older ladies, young men
the parade.

Ladies, young women
walking home from
working at shops,
factories, taking care of
rich kids or they’re
graphic designers, professors
accountants, too.
They’re scaling these hills.

Serious, eyes-straight-ahead
big city people.
Men from garages,
construction crews, businessmen,
stopping in little bars, groceries.
All types of workers-even artists-
artists of course in Salvador
in Fazenda Garcia and everywhere
paintings of people, animals, visions
on walls everywhere in Bahia.
More art per square inch than
almost anywhere in the world
and then there’s the music.
The music
polyrhythmic poly-textured sound of
guitars, drums, horns, lilting voices
that come from nowhere else, the
Brazilian sound is only itself.

Related by blood, much blood,
to Africa, Europe, and the
Novo mondo too, and
it is all those things but
different and it
comes at you from
stereos inside houses, cars
groups of guys in a park
singing, girls on the sidewalk

Whole groups on traveling stages
through the streets in Carnaval.
Neighborhood teams of dancers,
drummers, acrobats, possessed
by the music
the spirits.

Fazenda Garcia
like all of Salvador Bahia
has all of this.
Music, art, long days
hard looks disguising
a great love
that I, the goofy mestizo visitor,
had the wildly good luck to see
as I had married into royalty.
The gently tolerated husband
of a Fazenda Garcia Princess,
much loved and missed
and all I had to do was
do my best imitation of a
sane adult
while all the love
spilled from the sky
and drenched us both
Fazenda Garcia,
Salvador, Bahia.

Rick Kearns is a poet, freelance writer, and musician of Boricua (Puerto Rican) and European heritage from Harrisburg, Pa. He was named Poet Laureate of Harrisburg in January 2014. His poems have appeared in over 80 journals including The Massachusetts Review, The Painted Bride Quarterly, The Patterson Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Letras (lit review of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, NY), and Chicago Review. Kearns’ poems are also found in two books, five national anthologies, two international anthologies, and seven chapbooks. Several of his poems have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese.
He performed readings throughout the US since 1992, including at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café and Capicu. His poetry is also featured in “The Moon Rides a Black Horse” CD, combining his poetry with jazz performed by the Con Alma Quartet (with whom he collaborated between 2010-2014). For more Rick’s works check out his website: https://www.rickearns.com/.

 [This poem was published in our first issue • “Connections Brazil & Ireland” • in Dec 2020]

• Cover image by Bruna Gosta.

Photo Exhibition by Bruna Gosta.