Delmarva Review Editor’s note: The meaning of “saudade” is from the Portuguese and not easily translated into English, though it imports a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia. Poet Luther Jett explains that Portuguese “saudade” songs are ballads of intense poignancy, often incorporating images of the sea and of cities. He was intrigued by the concept and composed this poem.
Delmarva Review: Saudade
By Luther Jett
While the river overruns its banks,
I sit by an open window — The light
breeze carries salt and a memory
of tar, of small boats bobbing on the tide.
The cities we have left behind, the towns
we’ll likely never know, turn up their lamps
when twilight drifts across the green
as sighs of dying lilacs scent the air.
You were my first, my last, my neverending
road escaping over nameless hills,
my flight of arrows, my cascade of spears,
my brown wren weeping under the clematis.
Seas that have parted and seas which roar
between us, stars whose names no voice
will ever sing — These are the gifts I leave
behind with nothing in my pockets but my hands.
If you listen in the morning to the dew-
fall, you will hear the footsteps of my melody,
and in the evening the sky will burn red —
My blood is on fire for wanting you.
W. Luther Jett’s poetry has been published in Delmarva Review, The GW Review, Beltway, Innisfree, Potomac Review, and Little Patuxent Review as well as several anthologies. His chapbook, Not Quite: Poems Written in search of My Father, was released by Finishing Line press in 2015. He is a retired special educator from Montgomery County, Maryland.
Delmarva Review is a literary journal of national scope, with regional roots. The nonprofit review publishes compelling new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from authors within the region and beyond. It is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Visit the website: DelmarvaReview.org. Obtain the paperback edition from Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford, and Amazon.com. An electronic edition is also available from Amazon.