Thursday, June 14, 2018

A minha mae

One of the places we went one of the days we visited Vila do Conde was a video gallery which was comprised of four or five small 'theaters' where you could sit on a bench and watch the film. We sat for a while in several of these...a film of the beach watching the waves and sea birds 

and two animated films. 

They also had a bookshop and I was immediately drawn to a particular book which had really beautiful illustrations. The guy tending the place kept trying to draw my attention to other smaller paperback black and white books with simple line drawings which he said were by Portuguese illustrators and great for coloring books for children, except they weren't all that interesting and my kids and grandkids are well grown up. I bought the children's book that first drew my attention and though it is in Portuguese, the author Stephane Servant, is French and the illustrator, Emmanuelle Houdart, is Swiss and she won an award, the French Grand Prize of Illustration in 2016 for her drawings for the book A minha mae (My Mother).

Author: Stephane Servant

I used several Portuguese to English dictionaries to translate the story thusly accompanied by a few of the illustrations. My effort may not be precise but it gets the story told if a bit clumsily.

Illustration: Emmanuelle Houdart

Illustration: Emmanuelle Houdart

My mother
has the heart
between the sun and the night.

Bright as a moon.
Dark as the wing of a crow.

It has an all-nothing
that makes your laughter

And your sadness in the open.

Illustration: Emmanuelle Houdart

My mother has love in full bloom.
An entire garden.

Weeds, heather, lilacs or thistles.
Where we cut, we rub,
we shelter or chop.
With my father, we learned early
to garden.

My mother
has in the heart
a fox
nested in the burrow
all winter.

And I
between their legs
in the warmth
I cuddle.

I could spend a thousand years.

My mother
has in the heart
a wolf

Illustration: Emmanuelle Houdart

That sometimes, in the summer, makes it
sing and dance
in black forests.

I wait and I cannot help it,
shudder at the thought
maybe she will not come back.

Illustration: Emmanuelle Houdart

I'm not afraid of the darkness.
I'm afraid of the day
that she may not know how to find.

Do not be afraid, my mother told me.
When you were born
I tattooed on the heart
a birdsong
your first cry
a star of dew
your beloved face.

The path that leads me to you
I never could forget.


  1. oh my. this is so beautiful in word and art. thanks for sharing, I guess I needed a cry this morning. xoxo

  2. Lovely. lovely. Lucky find. Something you can cherish and read to other children. The illustrations are very moving and lovely as well.

  3. Good job translating, lovely! The illustrations are excellent also! You are a good shopper Ms. Ellen!

  4. Love it. Seems to me oriental - maybe like Japanese. Tender.

  5. This book is a work of arts.
    Just phenomenal.

  6. That's a beautiful book! What a great souvenir!

  7. Beautiful story poem, and wonderfully evocative illustrations.

  8. Just gorgeous! Reya needs to see this :)


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