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Poetry

From “Senza Polvere Senza Peso”

By Mariangela Gualtieri
Translated from Italian by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi

Now night comes—brings prayer.
It opens the silence’s locks
makes the sidereal map appear
and we kneel facing that immense space
between now and the rim
of the beginning
when spinal cords
are all extended.

***

I look down on ships
as spreading light
enlarges my vision.
Other ships far off rise
bearing gifts. We are leaning out
over the heartbeat of waves on cliffs
at the far end of the earth. Over there they collect
corals, pearls, call on female
deities, strew flowers.
Within these empires of nectar and wisdom
we fall from the heights.
Soft still, soft and slow
the whole sky turns clear.

***

I wanted to kill the snake
my hand stopped startled
by a tongue lifted as if offended.
The rock fell
rolling behind my step backward
the heavens had moved faster.

***

They sold the rot of empire.
They said chilling words. One could
only stay put. In the little nightmare or the real one.
Stay trapped by blood. Not fly.

Thus the world is all coal and ashes.
My pots and pans don’t feed the hungry.

***

Fruit is always a kiss inside the altar of seed
and June laughs and laughs. More than February and May
it becomes flesh. For this the branch slept.


From
Senza Polvere Senza Peso (Torino: Guilio Einaudi Editore, 2006). By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi. All rights reserved.

English Italian

Now night comes—brings prayer.
It opens the silence’s locks
makes the sidereal map appear
and we kneel facing that immense space
between now and the rim
of the beginning
when spinal cords
are all extended.

***

I look down on ships
as spreading light
enlarges my vision.
Other ships far off rise
bearing gifts. We are leaning out
over the heartbeat of waves on cliffs
at the far end of the earth. Over there they collect
corals, pearls, call on female
deities, strew flowers.
Within these empires of nectar and wisdom
we fall from the heights.
Soft still, soft and slow
the whole sky turns clear.

***

I wanted to kill the snake
my hand stopped startled
by a tongue lifted as if offended.
The rock fell
rolling behind my step backward
the heavens had moved faster.

***

They sold the rot of empire.
They said chilling words. One could
only stay put. In the little nightmare or the real one.
Stay trapped by blood. Not fly.

Thus the world is all coal and ashes.
My pots and pans don’t feed the hungry.

***

Fruit is always a kiss inside the altar of seed
and June laughs and laughs. More than February and May
it becomes flesh. For this the branch slept.


From
Senza Polvere Senza Peso (Torino: Guilio Einaudi Editore, 2006). By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi. All rights reserved.

From Senza Polvere Senza Peso

Adesso fa notte – fa preghiera.
Apre le serrature del silenzio
fa apparire la mappa siderale
e ci inginocchia per quello spazio
immenso
fra qui e l’orlo
del cominciamento
quando le spine dorsali
stanno tutte stese.

***

Guardo da basso le navi
Uno spargimento di luce
slarga la visione all’occhio.
Sorgono altre navi lontano
cariche di doni. Siamo affacciati
sul palpito di scogli sulle pendici
estreme della terra. Di là raccolgono
coralli e perle, invocano divinità
femmina e spargono fiori.
Dentro imperi di nettare e sapienza
cadiamo a picco.
Soave ancora, soave e piano
tutto il cielo va al chiaro.

***

Volevo uccidere il serpente
mi ha fermato la mano uno stupore
di lingua levata come un’offesa.
E’ caduta la pietra rotolando
sul mio passo all’indietro
tutto il cielo ha corso più forte.

***

Negoziavano il marcio dell’impero
Dicevano parole agghiaccianti. Si poteva solo
stare li. Nel piccolo incubo o nell’incubo vero.
Stare chiusi al sangue, non volare.

Allora il mondo e tutto carbone e cenere
i miei tegami non servono alla fame.

***

Un frutto è sempre un bacio dentro l’altare del seme
e giugno ride e ride. Più di febbraio e maggio
si fa sostanza. Per questo il ramo ha dormito.

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