Brasilia pic
Brasilia, 2019

The Table is a Trunk

Friends, we have made it
to this stop-gap, friends—
omniscient or obliterated?
The instruction is to politely
truncate, retreat to shorn-shape,
filed edge. Together we tip
and rock, leave moss in our mouths—
You tell me secrets that open out onto plazas
& sky-level expansion-level rolling time.
I summon and my friends
appear around a lunch table,
their other-dimension eyes,
the second day in my days,
its kernel-beat. Sometimes the food
is disproportionately sweet,
everything I feel is declarative,
honed towards admission.
Each of us holds one crisp
napkin close, white,
mnemonically folded.
They tell me who I am over
and over and over and I throw back
my head and laugh, spit
teeth out, find that I miss no-one
& all knowledge is reminding.
At night I tell my crowd
that saudades is an overrated
word, simple to translate.
Both sides of the coin glimmer
same as sea-breeze, make us
elastic, salt-mouthed, every apartment block
behind our heads is home


Happy in Brasilia

I think I finally recognise you here
along this grass esplanade flanked
by all the Niemeyer buildings,
one shaped like a stone spaceship
where I broke a camera, a dent
like a tooth edged out, all that glass
and the slow freeze of marble everywhere,
irretrievable crawl, the building’s white
concrete cranial, upside down, all places
where you dwelled are real—
this cubic light that sits there overhead,
an answer held out, somebody leaving,
the stubborn fronds of a palm outside
On separate occasions we dream
we are here, where once
you were photographed
with your own father, the dead
before dead, infinite words
puffed up and driven along
the road, a procession of regrets,
opulent, stylishly oblique, the grass
cut in preparation for the sun


Ali Sargent is a filmmaker, writer and translator based between London and Mexico. Her films have screened on Al Jazeera English, at the Bertha Doc House, at galleries including the Tate Exchange, ICA, South London Gallery. Her writing has been nominated for various prizes including the Out-Spoken London poetry prize and the Society of Authors’ Aurora Prize.