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9 de Agosto
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a sound memory
I traveled to Koło, and it was my first time in Poland.
The farthest I've been from the geographical point where I was born.
The fresh vegetation was lonely and cold even in summer. It was discreet, occupying and blending with luxury cars. Between Warsaw and Poznan lies the city where I slept. Koło, a tiny city right in the heart of this country.
I stayed in a large house with a beautiful garden. Among new things, the taste of tobacco returned to my mouth.
Amidst mundane and necessary encounters, we intertwined. Just as various types of skies arranged themselves in between.
On August 9th, almost reaching my departure date, I had no feelings.
More and more, I feel less about what I used to feel.
So it was on an atypical morning. I descended deeper than I had ever been. As close to the center of the planet Earth as I dared to go. 600 meters below the ground in a salt mine. Not just the fear of dying in that elevator. Surprisingly, it was gentle in its brutality, striking a balance between what needed to be done and how it would do it; that elevator descended at over 6 meters per second. There were no excessively jarring sounds, and the collective apprehension of those 9 or 15 other people crowded and organized in lines forced me to scream with a silent gaze. Even the comforting embrace of my boyfriend's hand did not console me.
Below the earth, there was no way to be other than surprised. To be almost distracted by the avalanche of thoughts and unfamiliar words that invaded my hearing but which I did not absorb. Among gigantic galleries of salt, millennium-old scars of the Earth, currents of air as desperate to reach the surface as I almost was, had it not been for my effort to control my body.
After the guided exploration, we took off our helmets, returned the flashlights, and chewing on the salt I had collected from that mine, the sky wept, but it was tears of relief and acceptance. So we decided to visit the Chełmno memorial. After the visit, I confess that everything felt very valuable.
I don't think I should write about this, but I felt the urge to reflect on all those names engraved in stones, the graves covered by timid and scattered flowers, the rain falling with discreet and muted sounds, the natural life that did not exist there...
With this composition, I thought about August 9th, 2023, which took the form of a choral music piece. Where the names of those who were brutally murdered are read by the tenor and bass sections. And two passages from Jeremiah are whispered in an understated chant by the soprano and alto sections, who for a good part of the piece take on the image of mourners.
Only at one moment is there an evocation of color, of lightness, of the sprightly song that Hélio sang. In one of the tombs was a child's photo. On the stone, a plaque engraved with words shared what he used to sing. When I came across this written text, I wondered how a song of pain could sound. A commentary amidst all those names of the murdered, the drops of water that had already soaked my head and shoulders, and the absence of the discreet insects of the field.
The strength of the names of entire families that were erased overshadowed everything I had read that early afternoon. My body was tired from so much control. After stepping into the salt mine, I tried to regain control. Command my body, guard my reflexes, breathe less, numb myself, and force myself not to express my homosexual affection and love in public took away my desire for everything. It was already late in the afternoon, and the rain hadn't stopped, much like the memories of a silent 16mm film.
The museum was closed, so we decided to head home. We took what I would later discover was named the road of death.
Guilherme de Almeida August 21, 2023.
Soprano voice (4)
Alto voice (4)
Tenor voice (2)
Bass voice (2)
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