Em Terras de Nári-Lautem

    De gente,
    o bulício matutino.
    De gente
    belo o acorde dos galos
    abrindo as asas
    por sobre os túmulos.
    Belo
    o sol que limpava
    os olhos das crianças
    que tropeçavam no dia.
    De gente
    também, e sábio,
    o pensar dos velhos.

    E só ficou
    o cemitério jacente
    às casas que apodreceram.

    Só os mortos não morreram
    em Nári, terra de gente.

    (Ruy Cinatti)

I was pondering the many meanings of this poem last night, the way Cinatti plays with tense. Tourist, who pedaled through Lautem with me in October, helped me to read this as a sort of Timorese “Ozymandias.” I don’t accuse Cinatti of the same Orientalist “gaze” as Shelley. But there is something similar here.

Nári was considered one of the “last” places discovered and brought into Portuguese dominion. From what I know, Nári was pretty much destroyed with “pacification” and attempts to bring them into the colonial fold. For further reading I suggest a book published in 1962 by José Rodrigues, a missionary based in Fuiloro after World War II: O Rei de Nári: Histórias, Lendas, Tradições de Timor e Episódios da Vida Missionária.

I can’t help but see Cinatti’s juxtaposition of the living and the dead in this amazing Google Earth “collage,” the lands near Nári-Lautem. The Ira Lalaro lake is half represented in the dry season, and half in the rainy.

Ira Lalaro, wet&dry

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