Alone, I Arrive in a Looted City

José Luís Peixoto
Translated from the Portuguese by Hugo dos Santos

Alone, I arrive in a looted cityand walk slowly, my arms hangingloosely, I look through open doors,what remains is scattered in the streets,the air is clean because no one is breathingit, this city, this silence, this city,I have on my face the oppositeof a child's tears, that timehas gone, I feel a solemn serenityand erosion because this is our city,and because I don't know whetherI will find you when I get home, Mom.

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Photo of José Luís Peixoto
Patricia Pinto

José Luís Peixoto is one of Portugal’s most acclaimed and bestselling novelists. His poetry and short stories have appeared in a great number of anthologies in dozens of languages. His new poetry collection, Regresso a Casa, is available now from Quetzal.

Photo of Hugo Dos Santos

Hugo dos Santos is a Luso-American writer, editor, and translator. He is the author of Then, there (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019), a collection of Newark stories, and the translator of A Child in Ruins (Writ Large Press, 2016), the collected poems of José Luís Peixoto.

Cover of The Common Issue 20


Amherst, Massachusetts

Amherst College

Editor in Chief
Jennifer Acker

Poetry Editor
John Hennessy

Managing Editor
Emily Everett

Finding the extraordinary in the common has long been the mission of literature. Inspired by this mission and the role of the town common, a public gathering place for the display and exchange of ideas, The Common seeks to recapture an old idea. The Common publishes fiction, essays, poetry, documentary vignettes, and images that embody particular times and places both real and imagined; from deserts to teeming ports; from Winnipeg to Beijing; from Earth to the Moon: literature and art powerful enough to reach from there to here. In short, we seek a modern sense of place.

In our hectic and sometimes alienating world, themes of place provoke us to reflect on our situations and both comfort and fascinate us. Sense of place is not provincial nor old fashioned. It is a characteristic of great literature from all ages around the world. It is, simply, the feeling of being transported, of “being there.” The Common fosters regional creative spirit while stitching together a national and international community through publishing literature and art from around the world, bringing readers into a common space.

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