A Day of Silence

Mariana Ianelli

Translated by: Eloína Prati dos Santos


Artwork by Alfredo Aquino

Whatever justifies the date, it is irresistible to think that this day has forever A Day of Silence.

Whatever justifies the date, it is irresistible to think that this day has forever existed, that only gradually it started losing space, being expelled, until it remained a remote island from which we have no more news, a piece of land where now people only arrive, when they arrive, for brief touristic strolls.

It is not the place where you would stay and ruminate on a strategy, a masterstroke, anything well conceived that grows, ripens in the shade, it is not that. It is not even a form of protest, alertness, an open proof of contempt or a disagreement so large that it is not worth saying anything else. It is not a minute of silence for the victims of a mass murder. There is censorship, watchfulness, a regime of fear, but it is not that either, this tomb of hidden truths where what shuts people’s mouths is impotence, humiliation or complicity in a crime. That all exists within well known limits and forms only a shell of silence. Underneath and around this shell the same din goes on, the same beehive work, a world of discontent, of confused intentions and interests.

The silence that became difficult, that little by little receded and was lost, is a different one.

It does not want to mean anything, it does not miss anything. It has nothing to hide or repress. It happens when everything rests quietly inside. A calm horizon, exact, complete. No wind gust or bad feeling, no desire of being somewhere else. It is a stone ground in a stony silence. The simplest thing. A stopover. A place one inhabits existed, that only gradually it started losing space, being expelled, until it remained a remote island from which we have no more news, a piece of land where now people only arrive, when they arrive, for brief touristic strolls.

It is not the place where you would stay and ruminate on a strategy, a masterstroke, anything well conceived that grows, ripens in the shade, it is not that. It is not even a form of protest, alertness, an open proof of contempt or a disagreement so large that it is not worth saying anything else. It is not a minute of silence for the victims of a mass murder. There is censorship, watchfulness, a regime of fear, but it is not that either, this tomb of hidden truths where what shuts people’s mouths is impotence, humiliation or complicity in a crime. That all exists within well known limits and forms only a shell of silence. Underneath and around this shell the same din goes on, the same beehive work, a world of discontent, of confused intentions and interests.

Mariana Ianelli

Mariana Ianelli is a poet, essayist and literary critic from São Paulo with an M.A. in Literature and Literary Criticism. She has contributed to anthologies, literary journals, and newspapers and has published several books. Treva Alvorada (Illuminuras, 2010) received an Honorary Mention for the Casa de Las Americas Prize.


Eloína Prati dos Santos
Eloína Prati dos Santos has a PhD in English from SUNY Buffalo and has taught at the Federal Universities of Porto Alegre and Rio Grande, in Rio Grande do Sul. She is a specialist in USAmerican, Canadian and Amerindian literatures. She was also guest editor, with Sonia Torres, of ellipse Brasil-Canada, no. 84-85 (2010, Fredericton, New Brunswick).