Poetry by Yasmin Nigri



waiting for the sleep

where dreams and reality converge

so that the damage can be repaired


before it settles too deep

before the persecutors can reclaim it


were it necessary, i would write with the mold off the walls, were it necessary



then you arrive

bringing with you what dawn dispersed


you envelop my stomach

the delicate mantle that comes off your skin

and you lay at my side the second star that dresses the city


the woman cuts the circle


in the end i imagine myself with

ivory spots on my rough face

resounding active voice

i will have abandoned the manuals

i won’t write to be read

but for the gesture of existing

breaking the circles

chess will be my school

of silence

i will recognize my isolation

and feel the flame of the world

in the simple pleasure

of looking at it

the way you look at a hearth

fulgurant in ruins and images

when the tree becomes coffin

i will go back to telling myself subsoil secrets

visible hiding invisible

finally a sphinx

with no questions


the silent sting

in every woman’s womb


everything i’ve loved i’ve loved alone

everything i’ve hated i’ve hated alone


don’t step on the grass


a secret palpitation in my heart

i’m going to grab nature by the tail

look at my watch

not even noon yet

waiting at your door

to tell you the good news

here by the benches

and this sign

don’t walk on the grass

i took down the sign


i like the desert


i like the desert

that is what they want me to think

i must not forget water

nor forget to divide water

cannot forget the seeds

nor forget to water the seeds

the men loan me their beautiful tools

i plant germinate and harvest

i incorporate crop residues

the soil is arid

i cannot forget to replenish the nutrients

it is important to think about climate


minimum area

the men of the desert take planks


and firm fingers

they are the ones who connect everything

to a sense

wherever they go places that weren’t there sprout up

they raise themselves

and their beautiful tools too

i cannot forget to give back the tools

and on the way out give my greetings

my function is to keep watch over vegetables

i cannot forget to divide the harvest

the house the inspiration

the hands and feet

nor the least light

“a lot of things are starting to strike out against the walls of my poem”

i smile while they take my child by the hand

lift my face

close my notebook

and breathe deep

i remember when i went on leaving myself


Yasmin Nigri

Yasmin Nigri (b. 1990) is a Brazilian poet and philosopher, raised in Rio de Janeiro. She is currently completing a PhD in philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. She identifies as “Jewish on her father’s side and a practitioner of Macumba on her mother’s side.” Her debut collection of poetry, Bigornas (Editora 34, 2018), was a finalist for the Rio Prize for Literature, Brazil’s largest literary award.

Robert Smith

Robert Smith’s translations of contemporary poetry have appeared in Anomaly, Asymptote, InTranslation, New Poetry in Translation, and Two Lines, and are forthcoming in the Journal of Italian Translation and Vestiges. He can be reached at [email protected].

Bigornas. Copyright (c) Yasmin Nigri, 2018. English translation copyright (c) Robert Smith, 2020.