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.

danielecavicchia16@yahoo.it

English

POESIE

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 MALICONIA 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.

da 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