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Poetry

From Watering the Plant of Dreaming (Dialogue with Paul Celan)

By Elisa Biagini
Translated from Italian by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi

Author’s Note: The following is an active, experimental dialogue with a beloved poet; texts are constructed around single verses from the German poet, distanced from the original context and used as crumbs to ignite a new poetic explosion.

Nights close
inside
my palm,
I touch you
and you are ink.

***

Too many things already said,
too much already breathed,

in my palm
only a stone spit out again
small as
an almond

(the sweet part is too
hidden and the shell
is too hard)

Count me among the almonds                                     Zähle mich zu den Mandeln

***

The tongue flies anyplace, rolls off,
throw it away, throw it away                               wirf sie weg, wirf sie weg
and you shall have it back;                                 dann hast du sie wieder
it will be a whirling in your ear
a wing that opens to measure the sky.

***

When the mouth
spits the word,
there’s a rhythm, between
“me and you”
that’s a clod
sliced by a blade,
worm that then
finds life again.

***

This twisting
of feet, like walking
in sleep, like
the story in
an ear already glass

***

With the eye-                                                       mit den Augen-
scissors
I cut                                                       schere
your profile, fixing you
with the time-blade
that never rusts.

***

What’s uprooted comes back together…             was abriss, wachst wieder zusammen…
the name, the name, the hand, the hand:            den Namen, den Namen, die Hand, die Hand

on my hand
balances the leaf
that in this light
does not grow:

put it in a glove
because the wind will shred it,
put it in a pocket so that
from here it can’t revive.

***

Sink me away,                                                    Sink mir weg…wirf dich
throw yourself out,                                                       aus
here only mirror
burns, black sun
where letters roll.

***

The shoulder blade is already the ax
a tablet of unwritten laws:
to embrace tires
to point traps
to grow twists


From
Da una Crepa (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2014). By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi. All rights reserved.

English

Author’s Note: The following is an active, experimental dialogue with a beloved poet; texts are constructed around single verses from the German poet, distanced from the original context and used as crumbs to ignite a new poetic explosion.

Nights close
inside
my palm,
I touch you
and you are ink.

***

Too many things already said,
too much already breathed,

in my palm
only a stone spit out again
small as
an almond

(the sweet part is too
hidden and the shell
is too hard)

Count me among the almonds                                     Zähle mich zu den Mandeln

***

The tongue flies anyplace, rolls off,
throw it away, throw it away                               wirf sie weg, wirf sie weg
and you shall have it back;                                 dann hast du sie wieder
it will be a whirling in your ear
a wing that opens to measure the sky.

***

When the mouth
spits the word,
there’s a rhythm, between
“me and you”
that’s a clod
sliced by a blade,
worm that then
finds life again.

***

This twisting
of feet, like walking
in sleep, like
the story in
an ear already glass

***

With the eye-                                                       mit den Augen-
scissors
I cut                                                       schere
your profile, fixing you
with the time-blade
that never rusts.

***

What’s uprooted comes back together…             was abriss, wachst wieder zusammen…
the name, the name, the hand, the hand:            den Namen, den Namen, die Hand, die Hand

on my hand
balances the leaf
that in this light
does not grow:

put it in a glove
because the wind will shred it,
put it in a pocket so that
from here it can’t revive.

***

Sink me away,                                                    Sink mir weg…wirf dich
throw yourself out,                                                       aus
here only mirror
burns, black sun
where letters roll.

***

The shoulder blade is already the ax
a tablet of unwritten laws:
to embrace tires
to point traps
to grow twists


From
Da una Crepa (Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2014). By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2015 by Wallis Wilde-Menozzi. All rights reserved.

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