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As Lições de Jill Dias

Maria Cardeira da Silva
Clara Saraiva

The balance (i.m. Jill Dias, d. 28 April, 2008)

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1Some make their mark so gently
and without trumpeting, our mourning
feels chastened and constrained,

2recalling less the brilliance than the courtesy,
the grilled sardines among Jill’s flowerpots
with Alberto’s best white Douro wines,

3or those evenings in Tasca or As Duas Amazonas
where Alberto headed straight for the kitchen
to ensure his guests were never stinted,

4so our arid hours in the Overseas Archive
or at the desks of the Geographical Society Library
where on the best days you’d run into Jill

5and be guided through the bureaucratic maze
that opened at last on the thicker jungle
of that history she trod with the surest feet,

6would culminate in a chilled bottle
on a wrought-iron table panelled with tiles,
in one of those glorious Lisbon dusks,

7before the serious business of dining began.
So many tributes make clear my delight
was matched by so many, it’s easily overlooked

8how she pooled her knowledge, irrigating
the research of explorers from three continents,
and afterwards helping them into print,

9how when our sardine-guzzling
is long forgotten, her work
will be cited as setting the standard.

10She was hard at such work when her heart
attacked her, that warm heart her engine
under the sure conduct of her brain.

11Constrained and chastened our grief
for Jill who always got the balance right
till bereavement smashed the scales.

12Reprinted with permission from
Landeg White,
Singing Bass (Parthian, 2009)

© Etnográfica Press, 2013

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