La Poesia italiana del Secondo Novecento - The italian Poetry of the second half of the 20th century

Daniele Cavicchia



 

Daniele Cavicchia è nato nel 1948 a Montesilvano (Pescara), dove risiede. Per la poesia ha pubblicato: Liriche (Pescara, 1969); Per i sentieri di Sion (Jester libri, 1973); Alle porte di Enaim (Bastogi, 1982); Altri sogni (Giardini Editore, 1988); Un dio per Saul (Tracce, 1989); Il Manichino (1993); I dialoghi del paziente (Noubs, 1988); Il custode distratto (Tracce, 2002); La malinconia delle balene (Passigli, 2004, presentazione di M. Luzi); Dal libro di Micol (Passigli, 2008); La signora dell'acqua (Passigli, 2011, presentazione di S. Givone). Ha collaborato a “L'Informatore librario”, a “Il Messaggero” e diretto due riviste letterarie. È segretario organizzatore del premio di saggistica “Città delle rose” e ha curato il premio “Ovidio” e il Festival Internazionale di poesia “Moto Perpetuo” di Pescocostanzo. Sue poesie sono state tradotte in inglese, ungherese, giapponese, ebraico, russo e tedesco.

 

 

Email    danielecavicchia16@yahoo.it




 

 

Da “ Il custode distratto”

 

 

L'enigma

 

A gradi si svela l'enigma

mentre attraversa la porta chiusa,

siede, legge il giornale, sbadiglia.

Ma è già sera e la paura

di uno sguardo fa serrare le persiane.

 

A parole non sappiamo se occupa

ancora la poltrona o se annoiato

ha lasciato indizi nel giardino

quello appena fuori, dove troppe volte

per strane idee non si hanno parole.

A parole non sappiamo se qualcosa

è cambiato, di certo si vaga

in casa in cerca di indizi:

il giornale è aperto sulla poltrona

e l'articolo segnato ipotizza sul tempo

 

 

 

Verrai

 

Verrai, disse, in un giorno avaro di doni,

muto nell'inganno del crepuscolo,

avrai mani ferite da spine silenziose,

nella tua paziente attesa cullerai i miei sospiri.

 

Ora stempera la sera sul balcone

rimuove ombre, crea le figure dell'impazienza:

sul foglio bianco è scritta

la saggezza del silenzio.

 

Verrai a mani giunte

con i sospiri delle canne

e verde sarai come siepe

come siepe verde- azzurra.

 

 

 

Se il giorno

 

Se il giorno ti coglie impreparato

ed era quello che temevi, sei già assente

come quando pensavi di portarle fiori

mancando l'appuntamento.

 

Quasi nulla di ciò che resta

è memoria di ciò che è stato,

tutto si confonde nell'assenza di stagioni;

e se bussando ad una porta

nessuno apre, cerchi un vicino

a cui chiedere i motivo

ma non aspetti la risposta

temendo che ti dica che tutti sono andati.


 

 

 

La bellezza

 

Ostinata a mezzo vetro

nei risvolti della tenda,

un poco mostra, un poco cela...

 

Anche la bellezza spaventa

al pari di una statua che ammira se stessa

e perso l'attimo non rimane

che lo sguardo, quello preparato

nel silenzio dello specchio,

uno sguardo così vero

da sembrare per qualcun altro.

 

L'ignaro che passa da quelle parti

non sa se piangere o gioire

tanto lunga è la domanda

da non prevedere la risposta.

 

 

 

Da “ La malinconia delle balene”

 

 

 

Il sorriso

 

 

Appena un sorriso gli si donò

smarrì il senso del discorso

e non seppe navigare

nel mare azzurro di quegli occhi.

 

Fu silenzio nella stanza, qualcuno si congedava

indicando l'imbrunire, oltre la porta

la costellazione da scoprire.

Allora fu lei che, sfiorandolo, disse:

- Forse domani...

- Già, domani; è così che vanno i giorni..

- Questi o quelli?

- Un confine da stabilire

per poterlo oltrepassare...

 

Lei varcò la soglia con l'azzurro del suo mare

lui rimase immobile a lisciarsi le tempie incanutite.

 

Nel buio buio accartocciò parole

tra le dita rinsecchite, quindi volle uscire

ma c'era ancora una porta da inventare

in quell'ora strana di un giorno che non finiva.

 

 

 

Lo specchio

 

...forse fu da quando Cagliostro

si svegliò la prima notte su tavole d'ulivo,

(ero lì, sapete?), o appena prima, dopo aver

impegnato il mio ultimo specchio; da allora

non riesco più a dipanare questo silenzio.

Eppure a volte torno ma come ballerina di terza fila...

- Siete dunque voi che in quella rissa...

- No! Allora ero regina, ma fu breve la stagione...

- Che ne fu di me e di quel blasone?

- Vi persi di vista e mi abituai, come dirvi,

siete due, ma così uguali...

- Eppure siete stata al mio servizio, lo negate?

- In quel tempo eravate principe,

un principe senza regno...

- E ditemi, vi ho più rivista da allora?

- Una volta, ma non aveste coraggio!

Ero Priora e voi prendeste i voti.

- Sappiatelo, non vi ho mai perdonato!

Solo allora scostò la tenda

mimando un passo da prima fila

ma inciampò nello specchio annerito

quindi fece un inchino e fu di commiato.

 

 

La distanza


1

Appoggiato alla finestra, dando le spalle alla pioggia,

( che pure canta quando si sa ascoltarla)

adagiata tu sulla sedia impagliata;

nel mezzo un fiume che porta rovine di pensieri.

Uno sbadiglio, un discorso intermittente sul tempo

che purtroppo vola

eppure mai come oggi si spera che veramente voli:

un curioso che avesse spiato si sarebbe chiesto

perché tanta distanza in uno spazio così ristretto,

ma guardando meglio avrebbe capito

avendo saputo rispondere ad una sola domanda.

 

II

Se oggi tento di indovinarla quella domanda

evitando l'aiuto di quel curioso, la mente ritorna

su quella sponda non tanto grande da impedirne il guado,

ma è in quello sguardo che accompagna il fluire lento

che incespica il pensiero e tutto resta fermo

come quell'acqua che appare immobile pur scorrendo.

A conti fatti è nell'istante che si consuma l'azione

e non importa il luogo e l'ora, uno strano orologio

che non tiene conto dei pensieri, decide di fermare la distanza.


III

Eppure sai che la distanza non s'inventa per puro gioco

ma resta oltre le parole che non superano il confine.

-Il tempo, dici, questo insieme di secondi...

e poi il passo esitante e l'occhio che più non nasconde;

che dire di questa attesa che attende se stessa

e di questi occhi gelosi e prigionieri?

Io poggiato alla finestra dando le spalle alla pioggia

(che pure canta quando si sa ascoltarla)

tu adagiata sulla sedia impagliata: nel mezzo

un fiume immobile dove scorrono frammenti;

manca il gesto che penetra senza riguardo, manca

quello che ognuno vuole, forse la domanda che non prevede

risposta, in questo spazio che tende a soffocare.

 

IV

Eppure bisogna distinguerlo il gesto della mano

quando dona somiglia a quando toglie

e la parola è solo un margine alla domanda

che pure contiene la risposta.

- Ogni dolore ripete se stesso, dici, ma esistono dolori

più grandi del nostro corpo. E solo la follia potrebbe contenerli.

Vorrei dirti che il silenzio non si traduce e che il dolore

non si divide, eppure taccio, sicuro come sono

che sei felice di guardare dall'altra sponda.

 

 

 

Dal “libro di Micol”

 

Micol

 

I

Ama parlare poco Micol

ma quando guarda e sorride

ogni discorso si conclude,

il silenzio che segue è di chi ascolta

riverberi di luce nel mondo dei suoi occhi,

il silenzio che segue è per rispetto alla parola.

 

II

Altrove ogni cosa accade nel frastuono

delle frasi, l'evento non è mai lo stesso

a sentirlo raccontare; forse è questo

il segreto della dimenticanza,

il cumulo di terra che cancella l'esistenza.

 

III

Eppure per ogni libro che si stampa

un albero viene abbattuto

la foresta si spoglia , si spoglia la parola.

Nemmeno il dolore conserva

la sovranità del silenzio,

nei campi i pochi fiori perdono i colori,

nel viaggio mai compiuto

i confini del finito e l'infinito.

 

IV

Ama poco le frasi fatte Micol

ma è l'insieme di tutti i fiori,

con il suo silenzio ristabilisce

il rispetto della parola.

 

V

Lei che ama la natura capirà

perché per questa cosa,

nata nel silenzio degli sguardi,

ho reciso un solo ramo

nel tentativo di un viaggio

tra finito e indefinito.

 

 

 

Nel silenzio

 

 

Nel silenzio di un addio abita il vuoto

di uno scoglio senza onde, di orologi frantumati.

E non sai perché resti muto mentre vorresti maledire

e non sai se anche tu stai andando

o se chi va zittisce il pensiero

perché tu possa indovinare il suo viaggio.

O se per rispetto di un discorso che non puoi capire

altrove, dici, e resti fermo nel tempo che si è fermato.

 

 

La contessina

 

Avevi circa quattro anni e prima di cena

avevamo inventato il gioco del conte

e della contessina, fingendo d'incontrarci

in una strada elegante, ricca di lampioni

e vetrine illuminate, ben sapendo che si trattava

dell'ingresso di casa, ed io baciandoti la mano

dopo l'inchino, dicevo: Contessina, che fortuna

avervi incontrato, poi vedendoti un poco emozionata,

aggiungevo: Dove siete diretta così elegante?

Tu a capo chino, radiosa e ancora emozionata,

rispondevi: A teatro, Conte.

Posso accompagnarvi? Chiedevo sfacciatamente.

E tu la prima volta, incapace di menzogne,

hai risposto: Sarà un piacere, Conte.

Allora ho interrotto il gioco sconsigliandoti

di accettare il primo invito, era opportuno

lasciare il Conte nel dubbio

perché bisogna essere degni di un tesoro.

E abbiamo ripreso il gioco, ti ho baciato la mano

e di nuovo ti ho chiesto: Contessina, che bella

sorpresa incontrarvi! Dove siete diretta così elegante?

A teatro Conte, a teatro con maman.

E posso accompagnarvi?, ho osato.

Un giorno, forse. Buonasera Conte.

E ti sei allontanata con sicurezza

perché il tuo essere donna non aveva bisogno

di insegnamenti ed io ero pentito

di aver interrotto la tua spontaneità

ma non avrei sopportato se anche per gioco

qualcuno potesse ferirti. Poi la mamma ci chiamava

per la cena e il reale tornava, ma già allora

eravamo complici e ogni sera si ripeteva il gioco

e ogni sera inventavi scuse nuove declinando l'invito

ed eri così misteriosa, Contessina,

che ogni mattina speravo di svegliarmi conte.

 

 

Da “ La signora dell'acqua”

 

Lei dorme, mi dice la signora dell'acqua,

dorme tra fragole e mirtilli

nel bosco in germoglio,

dorme nella grazia che l'avvolge.

Ora conosce tutti i nomi

e la voce che governa l'universo;

segui il fiume verso Est, fino all'ultimo

castagno e lì la troverai nella carezza

dell'erba: non destarla, non è solo un ricordo.

Ha un sorriso sulle labbra che parla d'infinito

e di un viaggio che non puoi indovinare.

Ascolta, è lei, anche se vedrai solo luce.

 

 

 

A te (A Gabriella)

 

Tu abiti una frase che non so scrivere

una che abbia un senso

perché di te hai detto esistendo

 

L'immagino breve eppure senza fine

come un giorno che somigli alla tua bellezza

forse come l'acqua, la sua trasparenza

 

Tu che torni all'interno di un rito da compiere

ombra che ama ombra

nel silenzio pieno di parole

 

Esisti nella materia compiuta dei tuoi occhi

nell'azzurro che non tradisce

nella giustezza che ti crea spazio

Tu abiti una frase che non so scrivere

ma sei una data certa

in questo tempo che sfarina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSLATION

 

THE DUMMY

 

Time follows on time and ties fringed

lace in the cycles of memory

while the man-his candle lit-

notes down on a sheet of white paper “ to-day i'm alive”.

Reading it back days later he reflects, “ I was alive then”

putting distance between the known and his broken

lighter. Then heaps of debris fill up

the room and the man- his eyes shut tight-

imagines proud petals on silent expanses

and his confusion , now that delirium is taking shape.

So he writes “ there's no time any more” and days after,

re-reading, he thinks “ there was time before”.

Then he goes out into the day's shiver, picks out a bench

and sits down in the olive garden. He spread sheets

of paper on the grass, takes his pencil and writes:

It's got to be a place of memory if silent shells live

the season of love here” , then, - struck by self- doubt-

he breaks the pencil, terrified by his mind

which closes itself again to words.

 

Madness precludes all agreements”, says the man

with glasses suddenly appeared at his side,

then becoming serious he adds, “ I'm an historian,

you know, conscious that time has no end”.

On the opposite bench a young woman absently reads

horoscopes and predictions, she calls the little boy,

discovers lines of velvety shade.

Do you see?, the historian goes on, “women' s beauty

is terrifying and awareness of this calms their fear”.

The eternal doesn't exist and beauty is only a moment”

the engrossed man replies watching the child

whose eyes are jet-black and full of questionings.

Nothing dies if its memory last”, replies the historian

firmly, cleaning his glasses with page three of the paper.

I come from a dream where time didn't exist:

girls were dancing among budding peaches”.

You are a master of rhetoric, my friend,

and the symbol is something else”.

But the gift...” ventures the man and falls silent;

words don't break the crystals of the mind

nor the uneasiness of the olives. The historian gets up and with pity

in his voice: “ Come back here tomorrow, at the same hour,

we'll talk about the past”.“ Not about the future?”

The future doesn't exist if you don't exist.

Look . Your are your absence”, the historian replies gruffly

while the drowsy shells look for the placenta of the sea.

I have never seen it in my dreams, i don't know it!,

and of course the olive suffers the impossibility of reaching the sky”.

 

 

The clouds are like restless monsters just above the trees,

filaments of light flash through the branches like dripping stalactites.

The glance cuts moving things in a still and ignores the worries

on men' s faces. That was not the peace of a sleeping body,

nor the bitter savour of bilberry which lingers in the mouth,

but a cruel game made of trembling, a waiting for tragedy

which a vigilant and terrible eye could command at its pleasure.

The page, the butterfly, the emerald, absences of colour

which disappear in the shadow comes before

the thought forcing the mouth into useless words.

The wind the wave, the string...

How do you believe in the useless regard

if the agitation gives back whimpering,

silencing the long journey of childhood? “

So, of course, is the becoming in metaphor,

unsure as we are in the short history o the present.

Which fire burns and which restraint?

Even princes die and their servants fritter away gold

and gems in the chambers of mourning and measure

out in long paces the illusion of their inheritances.

Even princes die and their servants and the waiting

is in the memory which forgets.

What was his name? What did he look like?

Only shades visit memories and the absence

of the angels last in the night of foreboding.

The branch, the amber, the silk...

everything repeats the the overflowing of the whys.

Waiting dresses pale blue it pardons time which moves

the days noiselessly: quid? Silence is another speaking,

sadness another listening. And hope

is a degenerate word in the fin de siecle secréaires.

Is it daybreak? Twilight? The day is a curtain closed

on the confusion of actors who have changed their part.

Smoke-rings and curses in the wounds of a world that

doesn't want to die: what do you say to passing

away that has already happened in the uselessness of words?

What game is it, what enchantment expected from the silent

and desperate death of birches?

A reign last a short time in the prince's melancholy

and the bride grows old among cotton embroideries.

 

 

 

The man collects up the scattered sheets and going over

to the woman says: “ You are very beautiful,

perhaps i love you, but the olive is something else”

and he falls silent like a child before his fear.

In your dreams I live the time of beauty even if the olive is a symbol

and it respects the silence of the shells. But remember I am the becoming”,

and with that the woman moves away and the man

sees her bent and grey and notes carefully: “ If dreams don't lie

I've seen here before, but she doesn't recognize me”.

 

 

The scourge of silence leaves traces on the walls,

puts letters together helter skelter, turns over discoloured

pages. At night the closed room is visited by sighs,

silent hands ransack drawers, immobile space becomes waiting.

But between the primrose and boredom the choice is easy

if faultless platoons speak of justice in silent deserts.

 

 

To- day you live the delirium of days and no gift

awaits you”, the spirit speaks crossing his legs.

I was reading about the soul's peace

and its impossibility”. I answer with ill-concealed

stupor, sure that immortality is only absence.

The spirit gets agitated, leafs through a book,

stumbles on the Latin myths, moves the curtain away,

I remember a school tour and a great castle;

the teacher spoke and touched the little girls' buttocks.

It was the challenge to our silence, but women know

what pain is and what an open glance can hide”.

I know your recognition and your

long knowledge, even if pain...”

It's raining, the lizards look for stones, the man a window:

to come out of ourselves is impossible

if the shade lays us seige with its stupor.

The hand wipes out the sign, rummages in our pocket,

tears away the long breath of silence.

Do you believe? Autumn feigns yet another death

and wards off the ordinary remission

now that, for cussedness, its eyes settle and the shade

insists on being seen. The hour passes between

darkened dawns and vanished colours:

green, yellow, red, look for

your colour, a surge which shakes the inertia

of waiting and the cry, a word that puts an end

to the mind's parabolas. Invoke?

Crying becomes a reply, prayer likewise.

 

 

 

Since the mystery has nether beginning nor end

that night we smoked and drank red wine

white a lazy pencil essayed poem:

...Chariots in procession and the dust

covered hair and long lashes

children to one side, five in number

making up games of war.

Tresses strewn on silent carpets and cloistered dreams;

now that abjuration has torn out the windows

the room becomes a place of ill-luck

white the contingent changes the divinities and open

folded edges on the pages of history.

...Someone in the silence of the night

plans things and invents the laws of tomorrow.

 

The stuttering doubt moves in the ocean

of discord, it levels hair, cuts the tresses of pale girls.

What is to be done if nothingness commands

and memory's string is divided?

The spirit fell silent watching his own image

in the dressing-table mirror, sagely waiting

for me to recite my lines.

Words often say nothing or the opposite of what's intended”,

the old man repeated, pulling a piece of com

from a cob, white he looked at the sky, sighing,

he, who divined rain in the limpid sky.

Then whit head bent sure of my distance:

the just one does not move the strings of harmony

even though he has sullied hands and proffers gifts

to all who ask them of him. Few men are alone”.

He said this scorn while the tenacious spirit

challenged my silence...Then it was only a glance,

his eyes skimmed my forehead

trying to seize the secret from my shade.

A colour, one, which melts the vertigo of the mind,

one which reveals the mystery of the fables,

just one, to recall the toys of childhood.

There was snow like poplar leaves and the green

on the lizard's backs and there were eyes that spied

among the rushes by the river, there were unknown

road, hoar-frost archipelagoes and forest

with great footprints that no longer interested anyone.

Difference is without a voice, a law fixed

in the silence of glances, a call for help in a day of terror

when frightened children throw stones madly.

 

The mirror gives form to the image

but it flattens the sense of words

thus-glass cleaned with the paper-

the man repeats that he is immortal

 

 

seeing the soul outside his shadow.

It's easy to lie to your own image if silent astrolabes

shorten the distance to the infinite.

The mystery demands that its glass be empty,

it goes away disappointed by my meagre knowledge

and its is a farewell since the mortal

is my daily companion. “ Men shouldn't ask

men' s pardon nor the pardon of immortality:

but things, oh yes, things in their silence

tell us: behold, you exist”. So spoke the spirit

while he stole the ash-tray and tried

to dust it with the hands he didn't have.

 

Night is an opportunity for voices, sometimes songs,

while memory's architects uproot bushes and graft aquatic

charms onto the sad course of the tuna kills.

Anonymous hands whitewash walls and blot out frescoes;

history moves along by fragments and the soul is just a name

now that prayer becomes a game.

Meanwhile green penetrates the night,

confounds dictionaries, permeates the interstices of the stage

while desperate soundings search out the painting

of the stone. On drowsy mountains the fire

of possibility reveals the blackmail of insomnia

and stretches out white linen on the declivities of forgetting.

 

In the corner of memory a girl exists

with the pointed face of a migratory bird:

Do you want a thought, Sir?”, she alarms me

with her doleful voice. “Tell me, my dear, now that the fire

burns and thought is an anonymous overflowing”.

The soul is a concept even in the shade

does not know its own body”, she says

while, absorbed, she goes on naming the azaleas.

In the distance the wave was sending out its voice,

becoming a memory in the dropping roofs;

in the open sea, at the edge of a glance,

a tenacious rainbow reasserted its pact with the just.

The shade doesn't have its double

if distracted hands wound faces

and arrange rearrange the pages”,

replies the man in his useless struggle with the sphinx.

 

White hands mark the chests of hungry children,

lead blind men to the forgotten station:

no-one will leave, not even a word,

perhaps a thought, deceived as it is by an automatic

recording announcing departures which have already left.

It is the waiting in the mysterious desert,

on the island picked out by chance on the faded map:

But green is itself blood in the fissures

of the mind, even in the habit doesn't know

the meaning of the disguise”, she added

limping into the distance, proffering flowers to passers-by

with a light gesture and a fragile smile.

The eyes look away from the stare and plunder

the thoughts written by the anonymous one on grazed

walls. But the wise one, in his persistence,

teaches the pale youth, who underlines and makes notes,

at the front desk in the empty hall,

then, convinced, he skips lightly among the people

certain that his knowledge is eternal,

He smiles and asks no questions until he meets a poet

who, on a sheet of white paper, has drawn a circle

around an exclamation mark. “What is it?”, the youth asks

arrogantly, “I have no such useless signs

among my notes”.

My uncertainty”, the poet answers,

Is the road to travel”. The youth clouds over,

casts his eyes around, looks at the sky

over the roofs. “And the question?”, he asks a little nervously.

There are no questions from up there

and the answers are not enough for man”, says the poet

putting a shield between himself and the future youth.

- Thought's Square – numbers few men,

mouthless, ecstatic eyes, they get up following

a line of green smoke that cuts silent widow-sills diagonally.

Roundabout, in the tangle of streets,

bald children announce a kingdom of light

laughing about the quiet men and their gloomy stage.

Cross or pole, wood or marble;
what's the difference in the context of death?

The last line was written with blood,

a shiver, a surge of the soul cut on a leaf,

the challenge of the grafting which shakes the lymph

and fixes the immortal pact on words.

Now the seals close the tombs, ringed fingers

trace signs in the air and confused magicians

consult the texts of impotence.

What was his name? What did he look like?

A voice called, but long, long ago.

Look, it's fine to-day and the peaches are in bud,

you could believe that death is a miracle

though, as you say, life is a mystery in itself”.

The poet folded the sheet, stroked the dog

which was nuzzling up to his shoe and remained

undecided which direction to go since his house was nearby.

 

She mirrors the deep furrows which line

her brow and, sighing, re-asserts her youth.

She opens chests and wardrobes, lets down her long hair

and when the gesture becomes a word whispers:

I was and am not, but time, oh yes, time, what a deception!”

Yes”, she said, “I will be with you if you like”,

but along the steps she turned pale, a trickle of blood ran from her nose.

It's an overflowing of the soul”, I said, and she, having taken

her distance from her own body, raised her absent glance,

then stretching her hand pointed out a gloomy entrance-hall:

There, in the gloom, look for me, be my accomplice;

only distance will unite us”.

Will we be lovers?”, I asked,

she slipped on the steps, the moss on the walls

held back her words, above the roofs,

a solitary flight affirmed the harmony of creation.

Lovers?”, she said, “the very thought is boredom”.

What shall we say then on the silence?”, I asked.

Oh, silence; in silence the work is completed”.

My Lady, your eyes are falling silent now”.

In the substratum of memory she is only a sound,

the same as in the dream I can't remember)

-What shall we say of the deconsecrated cathedrals

now that pale men restore eternity

and file by, a thousand strong,

towards God's garden?

 

The man in an old coat takes the bus and starts to ask

to his right and left directions for his stop,

until a woman with a fan gets up and says:

I know my stop, I have clothes to wash, you see,

but don't make me sad!”

I'm looking for the young poet's grave”; the man whispers.

Don't be pathetic Sir, no-one is young

least of all the poet. But my son is,

he is a botanist, he prepares infusions with marigolds”:

The man takes a sheet and writes: marigold,

and the woman who has seen it all says:

It's for the liver, you know, that independent organ”.

Resolute, he goes to the library and asks the grey

assistant for a book on plants and while he passes, his image

reflects in a shop window, flaps like a puppet,

he shaves and washes and on his return he says

to the manikin that smiles at him – since women smile

at our feelings – and having asked permission

of the skinflint takes the man by the hand

and leads him to the gates of the cemetery.

Wait for me”, he says, “even if I don't come”:

 

The man, having taken off his coat in deference

to the season, sits down among corn and poppies

motionless as a pillar that protests against its time.

Why don't they all come out from those city walls?”,

asks a child who has been watching him awhile.

One place is as good as another for waiting”,

replies the man studying the sun and its shades.

I don't understand”, says the boy, “I catch

lizards and ants, sometimes I cry”.

Ailanthus, Akebia, Alchemilla, Amorino, Aspidistra...”

What are you reading?”

Names of plants”, replies the man.

Why do you stop here if you know these things?”

For the shiver of life and for respect”.

The tips cover the sun and the shade

finds its trunk again. Coloured fans

shake the torpor of the day and the glance

opens out to the knowledge of the orient. Beyond the walls

the bell-harnesses ignore their own lemurs.

What book is it?”, asks the boy, yawning.

A book on botany, it's about plants”.

Are you a botanist?”

I'm not sure whether to be a word or a thought”.

Ah, you're a poet!, I can't stay here

with you, my ma would give out to me!”

I'm waiting for a beautiful woman,

maybe I'll be in a lighted shop window”.

Give me the book please, I will be a botanist.

I can choose, the word will decide for you”.

And he took the book out of the man's hand and laughing

he sped off at breakneck speed and you could tell, from the rustle

of the corn, that he had passed that way many times.

 

The man waited twenty eight days

(he knew by the ears of corn he had cut)

then he left, missing the appointment

with the boy who came at the same hour,

every day, to read him the names of plants.

Filled with his knowledge he looked for the shop-window

in the city streets, and after three days he found it.

The manikin was sad, dressed as she was

in a long black coat with a fur collar

and he didn't recognize her, she mad one sign,

yet he spoke: “O most pure Azalea,

opalescent Bilberry, you cut the distance

and greet the savour of my corn; now

I'm on the threshold of my nothingness and I don't know

what roads to take, others have occupied

the places of my memory, anxious as they were

to reclothe their own bodies. To-day I am

only a shiver, a forgotten note.

 

She didn't reply. Immobile in her grace

she compelled the man to enter the shop:

I'm looking for the beautiful woman

who declared her love for me”.

Ah, that one!”, said the skinflint trying

his cravat, she's not in uselessness

she's in the back of the cellar waiting to be broken up”.

But I love her, I want to marry her”, said the man,

desperate, “now I know the names of many plants”.

Oh, you and your expert knowledge; the request seems like an old one to me”.

Help me, please, I live on thoughts”.

Poets! Alright, come on, get up into the window display”.

He was put on a pedestal and the card around his neck read

-this year's model-

and the people came in crowds and laughing children,

ice-cream makers and bookstall sellers, even viragos,

and a judge came to the skinflint wanting to know

why the manikin was so life-like:

 

 

A poet, your honour, lives on thoughts”.

Meanwhile the man was sweating a little, he was a bit cold

and every evening he asked news of his lady;

Patience, my friend, these things take time;

you will see her and you will be united.

To-day they are looking at you, someone will remember”.

And the day came and they took him to the cellar

and it was gloomy and humid and he couldn't see

until a voice called him:

I'm here but don't look for me, be content to know I still exist”.

What are you saying, don't deny yourself, I'm alone”, shouted the man.

For me, time cleaves the day in two,

I'm naked and cracked. Don't be impatient,

make your memory balance your curiosity and live by that”.

The mind forgets and the words are few

but show yourself so that I can enjoy your fullness”.

Groping along he followed her voice and finally found her:

she was grey and dishevelled, hands cold, an absent look.

Is this your secret then?”, said the man,

is this what you wanted to deny me?

You are your absence and I can't replicate you;

so you are nothing”.

 

The motor was started and the conveyor- belt began to run,

the manikins standing in line were swallowed by the devouring

mouth and finally she passed, beautiful again

and precious and looking at him, laughing, she said:

2You loved me, I know, and I looked for you.

But it's time to forget, oblivion makes flowers

grow in vases and dissolves precious crystals.

Farewell and be your own memory”.

The man didn't hear her words and , desperate,

he looked for the exit which didn't exist. So he slipped

on the pavement and he was astonished when his eyes

began to see in the dark.

 

In the distance, on the opposite side of the cellar,

a threshold of light opened.

In the middle, among the fragments of stars

and a green eddying of syllables and parchments

a terrible angel fixed his pact with silence.

 

The man wasn't sure whether to cross it or to escape.

 

 

Translation by George Talbot