Kristi Conley-Brockie and Olivia Olivia

Kristi Conley-Brockie


Olivia Olivia

Inspiration piece

Don’t Be Sad In Lisbon

Don’t be sad in Lisbon. Don’t be sad you might be forgotten. Don’t be sad no one you know is here. Don’t be sad no one you love lives in Portland anymore either. Don’t be sad the streets are narrow and you are always willing to let someone else use the sidewalk but no one offers you the same courtesy. Don’t be sad you live alone, it’s good – you have your own fridge and your own shower. Look at the view. Look at the ocean, or the river. Look at the river. They said it was the Tejo. They said this is where all the ships left to conquer the world. Imagine all the lobsters they must have eaten on their way. Imagine the king killing the prince’s girlfriend, Ines. I don’t remember the king’s name. I remember how he made me feel, I thought man no one would ever do that for me. No one would ever make the whole village kiss my corpse’s hand. But don’t be sad, don’t be sad in Lisbon. You paid entirely too much money to be here. You have to learn things, you have to remember things.

Remember the austerity measures. Remember how the public pisinas were all shuttered, and according to locals their drained cement bowls stand alone in the heat, graffitied then forgotten. Remember the friendly look on the dog’s faces, the way they look like they also probably don’t speak English, but it is possible they speak Portuguese.

Don’t get lost walking the narrow streets of Alfama, don’t get lost looking for the beach. Forget your sorrows, the sun will be up soon. Tell plenty of jokes. Laugh like an American. Think of Mister Pessoa. Think of Ofelia, what is was like to love a man who thought he was 80 different people. Was it a joke then, to love a poet? Did people laugh? Did her parents think this was a great idea? When he broke her heart, did everyone say “we told you so”? Was she happy to throw his shit out, or did she keep some of it until she died? What did they eat together, I wonder. I wonder what she thought of the tile, what she thought of the thin streets, I wonder if people made place for her when she walked along next to them. I wonder if she too had to force a place for herself in the world, push aside others and say hey look here I’m walking. I wonder if she swam, if she ate shrimp, if it was ever hot like this. I wonder if her mother had to warn her about Mister Pessoa. “Beware black magic, beware flattery, beware a man who has to be 80 different people when you just need one man. Next thing you know you’re only dating one of them, and the others wander the streets at all hours. You say, don’t you love me? And he says, certainly I do, but my heteronym wanted to touch the neighbor’s thighs.” How could she have helped, looking at the water and thinking, I’mma leave this man, all 80 of him.

Don’t think about Ofelia, think about Pessoa. Think about his statue on the way home. Think about his leftover coffee cup that’s still on the table from a century ago.

Don’t worry yourself by looking at the sea. Sleep well.

Don’t be sad in the middle of the night, when you’re hungry and you want to pet your cat. Don’t let anyone know that sadness is a featureless state, it doesn’t matter where you are. Be careful in the ocean. They say the rip tides here are strong. They can tear you right off the shore, and you might never come back.