Nadja Fernandes is a Brazilian-born writer who has been living in Perth for 15 years. She mainly writes fiction but has recently got involved in a non-fiction project, contributing with two stories that will be part of a book about different people living with a disability (for more information, visit ). Nadja is strongly influenced by the ideas and the writings of Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gabriel García Marquez, Julio Cortazar, and Machado de Assis, to name a few. She is an English and Spanish teacher, translator and writer, and lives with her ten-year-old daughter.


That grey weightless substance
That descends as its sister ascends
Rising elusively
Like manipulative thoughts although not delusive

That grey residue left from your fuel
No quieres renunciar
No puedes a ella dejar
So when up la hermana goes
You invite her, through your nose
She’s grey but she’s hot
Venenosa, but somehow soft

When you’d finish with the vice
And get rid of all that dottle
I’d be told to clean your pipe
You’d be sipping from the bottle

Foggy residues, cenizas,
In the chamber. ‘Date prisa!’
Would call out Señor Urquiza,
Foggy residues, cenizas,
Latin words during the Misa

Your self-standing cenicero, at which I often stared
Made of granite and so rare
Would stare back at me and you
In the centre of your room
With those notches, con sus muescas.

Those were eyes that never slept
Those were eyes that always watched
Ojos que jamás guiñan, ojos que todo ven

Thirty years have gone by
Y hoy vuelvo al Uruguay
Tomo mate, I still do
It’s my favourite drink, my fuel
Like the pipa was to you.

We all asked for you to quit
We all prayed or begged or hoped
That you’d want to be more fit
But you didn’t change a bit

In nomine Patris et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti”.
I make the sign of the cross
Yet I still feel sad and empty

In the centre of my room
In an odd way giving peace
Stands my new granite piece

This one has all its eyes shut
Ojos que ya no se abren
Ojos que siempre duermen.
a no miran ni registran.
Adentro, solo restan, tus cenizas.


1.Cenizas = ashes
2. No quieres renunciar = You don’t want to give it up
3. No puedes a ella dejar = You cannot leave “her”. In Spanish the word “pipa” (which means pipe) is feminine, which is why the pronoun used is ‘ella’, which means ‘she/her’
4. La hermana = the sister
5. Venenonsa = venemous
6. Date prisa = Hurry up
7. Señor Urquiza = Mr. Urquiza
8. Missa = Mass Service
9. cenizero = ashtray
10. Con sus muescas = with its notches
11. Ojos que jamas guiñan = Eyes that never blink
12. Ojos que todo ven = Eyes that see all things
13. Y hoy vuelvo al Uruguay = And today I return to Uruguay
14. Tomo el mate = I drink “mate” (“mate” is a traditional drink made by an infusion of dried leaves of the ‘yerba mate’. It is widely consumed in some countries of South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. This drink is traditionally prepared in a hollowed gourd, to which a metal straw with a slightly curved end is added so that it can be sipped. I intend to make a brief analogy between the image of the ‘mate’ and the pipe, as the gourd resembles the shape of the chamber of a pipe. It may also be worth mentioning that most ‘mate drinkers’ have it a few times a day and that it is a social activity in the sense that it is generally shared between two or more people.
15. pipa = pipe
16. In nomine Patris et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti = In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; the Trinitarian Formula, generally accompanied by the action of the Sign of the Cross.
17. Ojos que ya se no abren = Eyes that no longer open
18. Ya no miran ni registran = They no longer look nor do they register
19. Adentro, solo restan, tus cenizas = inside, all is left are your ashes