One Tale Of Two Cities

What began by being two separate stories about two separate human beings that happen to live in the same city — Lisbon — and happen to go to the same place to try to find something they can’t quite capture — Porto — and that happen to know each other — understatement — melted into a kind of gut-wrenching adolescent love letter to love itself. There’s nothing to be learned by reading the words poured into this page, but if somehow you see Porto as more than just brick and mortar, maybe you’ll relate. Maybe not. You’ve been advised.

Words: Irina Chitas and Tiago Neto

Porto. Morning. Winter. Flight recorder of a quite clear day. Life contains the uncertainty of a yawn and you. Black cloud tongues. You became the bed I don’t want to wake up from. It is in your wide shut life that I heal. That dark sleek stone running through my damaged veins. The wet floor, Clérigos’ grey and untamed carpet, slips under my permanently broken heart. It feels whole with you. 

I walked through these basalt veins under the watchful eye of the tiled bell towers. Saw the day come sitting on the gentlest hill and imagined how you would be like from the top of the bridges and the Clérigos and Bolhão, how I would miss you; a seagull and a cigarette, hanging from your chest, forever.

I don’t know you but I understand you. There is an abyss between these two worlds that even your bridges cannot break. Reality seemed amputated before you. And I hope you’re never prepared to stop taking care of me. I believe with all my diseased fibres that you were radically designed to be alive on a different plane.

I don’t know all the arteries and all your loveless stories, it’s true, but I don’t feel alone. I spent days wandering through your dark streets and my only agony was this feeling that I’d have to leave you soon. I want to write you, you know? To write all the walls, all the streets, to imagine you in a single stanza, a poem to which I commend my soul and death.

All the songs that spew from all the bars in Galerias speak of a love that only exists in that garden that looks out over your river. There, the flowers don’t even smell like flowers, they smell like some frosted morning. Your mornings are the only ones I can stand. Your nights are the only ones I can stand. Urgent. Dense. Screams and apoplexies of plenitude.

I want to enumerate the nights deafened by the chirping of seagulls so that I know that, in the end, we crossed paths in the fiercest of passions. It’s just that I kept you like the nightly flight of birds at dawn, a greedy breath for the lights and the sounds and the glasses.

My reconstruction has an address in Cedofeita. Not knowing our end seems to me the only possible development. The earthquake spared you and you spare me the seismic Lisbon days. I stop between lost records and requested risks. Watch the year go by with Aliados on your forearms.

And I don’t know if I have you as a cure, if I love you beyond this home that you were, but as much as I am, there’s still a piece of rubble that I return to you every visit. The hugs in São Bento, the goodbyes in Batalha, the promises of seeing you soon in Campanhã.

I follow the same paths, ever and ever, from one end to the other, until maybe sometime I have reached perfection. I don’t know if you have scaffolds, not even in those alleys along the Ribeira where I recover from the rain. The names of your legs speak to me of romance. Passeio das Virtudes.

I’m sick from carrying you on my chest all these years and I’ve lost count of what I owe you. Nothing will ever be as atrocious as my heartbeat without you existing in it, and even the letters and poems I can write may not suit your skin, but know this: until the day the pulse breaks, you’ll be my seismic centre of the world.

I don’t know how long I’ve been training to lose but you won’t let me. Listen: I’ll see you soon.

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