Issue 78, Summer 1980
Bélem did tinker repair his bicycle by the stink-toe tree. Better to work there it smells so bad, work gets done no lazy quick. Then he rode to buy a woe shirt. He saw Mari then, standing. She said, “You going to buy that shirt, I know! You’ll go buy that beggar shirt Bélem, I know. Oh it will cost you all your little money all your goats and old friend parrot to get it! I tell you clearly, look at what you do! Spend everything on a beggar shirt, no sense!” but Mari saw that Bélem felt the shirt on him already, too late, “O.K. then, say good-bye twice to your parrot,” she said.
Bélem said, “Good-bye, I go begging, I’ll have a woe shirt to beg in soon,” twice he said this to his parrot. The parrot blink and green flutter the air and nibble fruit, said nothing back.
They walked the bicycle to the woe shirt closet set up in the market place, closet with all the market for a house around it. The shirt seller there looked at Bélem’s tatter shirt, he said, “Take your choice.”
Bélem looked at all the shirts then, and asked advice of Mari which to choose.
Mari said, “None,” she said more, “Buy some thread and needle if you want to spend.”
Bélem saw on the shirts memories he knew of things familiar. He said to Mari, “Look, there’s that day on this shirt, that day we saw bark scrolling up on the eucalyptus trees!”
Mari saw that day sewn there, on the shirt, she said, “Yes, I remember,” she looked squint and wary at the shirt seller looking away from her he was.
Bélem then, “And here, on this shirt, that night we saw the moon and moon-shaped cloud next to it. Out walking we were, and saw them.”
Mari said, “Just like the eyes of the favorite goat of yours, lovely eyes next to each other like the moon and moon-shaped cloud, I remember. That goat stumble a lot, but those eyes…you could never sell that goat, no.”
Bélem saw days past, all sewn on the shirts, he felt sad old and wanted all the shirts to wear on him those times over again.
Mari said, “Bélem, you remember good by forgetting bad, and the other way around, some memories spin your heart sad some happy,” she said, “But when it stops you still standing here ready to buy this woe shirt, still! Buying these rich memories will be making you poor Bélem!” she knew how these things work.
Bélem was trying on the shirts.
Mari said, “You are stubborn for a shirt, Bélem friend. You don’t look in your face well. It’s a certain kind of fever for a shirt, you got this.”
But Bélem did buy a shirt then, he bought his favorite shirt with Mari sewn on it sitting on a dock braiding garlic, practising for her daughter’s hair, braiding. All this was sewn on the shirt and Bélem remembered it well. He bought this one.
“That’s a memory rich memory,” he said, then went begging in the market.
Mari she turned back to see the shirt seller begin sewing fast, on a new shirt he sewed Bélem begging in the market, a picture of that he sewed. Mari stopped to look, he held the shirt up for her to look.