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Paper boats -- poetry by Sofia de Castro Daniel

When I was younger, I used to make paper boats.

I'd put them in the streets when it rained,

I'd run on the sidewalks, following them.

My town has always had problems with flood,

so I stopped doing this a long time ago,

to avoid clogging the drains.

My town has a river in the centre of it.

(The river has a town built around it,

built over it, built under it.

The river has a town that tore it apart

and distorted it and caged it,

until it died.)

All the streams flow to the river,

everyone in town flows to the river as well.

It’s the reason of our existence, it’s why we are settled here.

It's where the town started, and it's where it ends.

Watching paper boats navigating the water

along the sidewalks is quite disappointing.

Eventually, they get stuck on something,

they melt, they become nothing,

and when the rain stops, we find a distorted

piece of paper.

Watching my town after the rain is like

rewatching a movie you already know the ending.

Eventually, the water gets tired of being caged.

It flows and spreads and forms new seams, it

takes over houses and cars and people,

it swallows everything around and under it.

It’s a river looking for a riverbed,

for a place to stay that we denied for too long.

When the rain stops, we find a distorted

town and we rebuild it, so it can get destroyed again

next year.

In the summer it rains a lot, but I no longer

make paper boats. I tried making paper

aeroplanes, but it doesn’t feel the same.

Summer rain usually ends in disaster:

The waterfalls over our ruins remind us

that we live over a river,

that we are paper boats, carried away.

Our journey never ends in joy or peace or life.

I never figured out where our river flows to,

I guess it's better this way.

Our dead river can't flow to anywhere good.


Sofia de Castro Daniel is a high schooler, Brazilian author who started writing poetry during quarantine. Her work has been published in Portuguese by Trema, in English by Moon Cola, and is forthcoming in Lavender Bones. When Sofia is not writing, she enjoys drawing, playing the violin and walking in the forest near her house.

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