Alegria (Joy) by Bayveen O'Connell

I am being conceived in a rusted Porsche parked on Rua da Alegria, Porto. My father is good with his tongue, he’d want to be – he’s an interpreter. My mother, an umbrella-toting tour guide, smiles down at my father as she licks at the beads of sweat gathering above her lip. Their hips move, making the car sway, rocking in preparation for the cradle the will buy. She giggles at his belly and how his skin is so pale beneath his waistline. My father loves how my mother has pinned him down with her caramel thighs in this sticky, cramped space. He has never felt so steady. These moments, skin to skin against the cracked leather are witnessed only by an elderly woman on her way to evening Mass. She clutches her chest, crosses herself and waddles off. Now my father is lost for words. His lips cannot even find their way around paraiso. My mother glows in her yellow cotton dress, the sun setting behind her. Arching her back, she exhales and my father lets go. Then I am made. I am made where the paint strips hang off the buildings, where an old man summons the first note of a Fado song from his gut and wails it out through his lungs. Where a few glasses of Vinho Verde on a cloudy afternoon become the juice of life.

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