Salome after the Crime

translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Salomé by Juana Romani / Musée d'Orsay / Public Domain

How often I saw you
and felt surprised to be looking at you.
Feeling the temptation to spy on you
and the desire to love
what I did not have

How was I to know
from the naked dreams
that assailed me
that I was no landscape
for your eyes?

Lust, they say, 
should only exist alongside love
and this was a vast and lustful crime:
but I wanted you defenceless
a banquet
your lips my banquet

How often I found myself
thinking about my crime 
and about the history of men
judging me!

But what I saw
on that crime-laden platter,
were the eyes with which you
looked at me
(a me finally made landscape)

and the lust
that always exists
in love

Translation from the Portuguese

Ana Luísa Amaral was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1956. She has written poetry, plays, children’s books, and a novel. The recipient of several national and international awards, Amaral’s works have been translated into some twenty languages. She has two books in English: The Art of Being a Tiger (2016) and What’s in a Name (2019).

Margaret Jull Costa has translated such Portuguese and Spanish authors as Eça de Queiroz, José Saramago, Javier Marías, and Sophia de Mello Breyner. Twice the recipient of the Portuguese Translation Prize, in 2014 she received the Order of the British Empire for service to literature.