Pedra da Gávea — the ‘hard-topped stone’ mountain.
I climbed that difficult bastard,
That pebble-ridden, stone-cold, jagged edged, steep dropping type.
The type that makes your legs wobble and your eyes stretch
out to distant shores.

Millions of dollars of urban habitat colonize the beaches below,
Like miniature ant colonies bustling around sand piles.
I catch a glimpse of the organized chaos through the crack-line
Carved between the coarse walls and the crooked vegetation
protruding from the crag.

Pedra’s wound opens — bleeding out foliate forests and blue prairies
Framed in the indigenous periphery
Of an unpolished, natural beaten sierra
Advocating for a space of tranquility
disrupted by my sweat, my sneakers, and my sighs.

I came from the bottom-up, from the ants and the colonies
Mounting myself on the alien stone,
Conquering Rio de Janeiro through the cracks and crags,
Pioneering this stubborn rock with my eyes
now enclosed like a post-card photo.

Forgive my effrontery, for I am but a gringo
That has cut you open with my ocular blades,
And stared through your hard outer shell,
Peeling back your mountainous skin to the metropolis—
that hardened heart within you.


Stephen Cruikshank

Stephen Cruikshank

Stephen Cruikshank is a PhD Candidate in the department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. His love for poetry, language, and travel often go hand in hand. His particular interest for writing and travel are dedicated towards the Latin American Caribbean and Brazil.