Ipanema And Copacabana

City workers in business suits and skirts
begin streaming down local streets to the beaches
as if Rio alert to something unusual. Only room
to tiptoe between towels mats and people
pieced like a crazy quilt on the beach of song,

sunbathers and volleyball players gather in, make room.
The day’s fragrances wash us in waves of Brazilian rhythm: salt sea
each other’s coconut oil    caipirínhas    roasted cashews
agua de cocos   sky’s vast dome a still, clear blue
but one tiny portion fills and holds our view

the sun is setting red and salmon pink   small mountain range of
cloud dark blue—from whatever weather nowhere else—its ridgetop outline
midnight glyphic   writing to us hugely   beside the skyfruit salmon
a beautiful mysterious Cyrillic   no one can read nor take eyes off
a god’s billboard hung for us   to contemplate   every detail

artistic brilliance   any Russian here can read this? calls
from otherwise quiet   my own crazy thought   no one mocking
we are in another realm   deeply untranslatable
reassuring and benevolent   the salmon blushing gorgeous neon
down floats the sun loosing   colors hallucinatory   unnameable

as she glides under our world   we all stand to keep sight of her
those seconds longer…till she   goes and still we
stand hundreds of thousands   in total silence facing the one direction
at Ipanema and Copacabana      till a gentle puff-puff pair of hands
then everyone both beaches      applauding softly softly maintains the tender quiet

Quantas vezes? I ask a Brazilian. —How often! This sunset? Standing?
That clapping? All around people were already asking to affirm. —Querida,
not in anyone’s years here. We Brazilians as a people, we know what it is,
You, Americana, you will wait, watch, but believe me, here

you will see—this will never happen again.