Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

March 2020 and Other Poems— Davide Castiglione

Jan 2, 2024 | Poetry | 0 comments

TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN BY THE AUTHOR

Summer revelations, XI

Father lies down on the grass.
Non-synthetic grass; grass with bugs

still. The sandal-wearing child glories
in the chloride spray of the fountain.

The fountain was out of use for ages.
Scarce funds; misunderstandings.

But now it shows itself off, gestures
to the sky. It is the pride of the town.

Old butterfly nets, festive dragonflies.
You can still call it a Sunday.


Užupis

They’re known as graffiti but what you’re after
is a sweeter name, to relate how this freedom
of characters came alive and travelled these walls.

Rubber boots on, he descends the escarpment:
the Vilnia gains in vigour, a mini-river up close,
whimsical eddies we would not want tamed.

The swing is resting a tad above the water,
two wooden planks hooked to the overpass,
One rope is childhood, the hangman’s the other.

Then rolled cigarettes books mirror-gestures,
the self-proclaimed Republic content with its calm
floating far from the buzz of marketing strategies.

You’re still in search of a sweeter name, and there it is…
Eglé, spruce-bearing name, we’re going to meet
by the planetarium, among these big dice-like cubes.

I loved Functionalism when I was fifteen;
when it was my sketches that which made
lines meet. You’re as thin as the Vilnia is,

and your step makes such heavy urban design
unreal. Off to the park we’ll go then,
the name of the spruce, an old schoolmates’ joke.

That overly-ornate thing, that’s me… these gaudy garlands,
Eglé, would you shake them off me please?
It’s the bare leaves, here, that glitter for real.


Had I

That pebble, a grasshopper skimming the river.
He’s not really throwing it, he who throws it:
he lets it flow with a gentle, ultimate swing.
He’s French, lived in China and so on, but he
could’ve been me at the end of the century.
Had I that gentle, ultimate touch. Weightless,
the pebble was carrying one of his chromosomes,
must’ve been dreaming of tensed waters, of going beyond,
dreaming of you, who eventually obliged, while I
am tossed away in ever-expanding circles
and from those sharp crests spy
how perfectly you feast on each other.


You can stray

Go out, embrace whatever may be.
The barrier of seated clients’ backs.
Embrace your silly teenage t-shirt too.
And your gloved look that hooked the girls
and is clumsily losing them.
Embrace that wooden spoon
lowered in a jug as you saw it
in her chiaroscuro sketch;
And yourself, right in front,
and the tear you were about to become.


March 2020

“She didn’t make it”. She didn’t
make it. Her voice was coarse and warm,
a crackling of whitening embers. She used
to remain firm in her steadily
broadening smile, more than the polite smile
one puts on at family Sunday lunches. I flew away,

the fireworks would not stop it was
a national holiday here, thirty years ago
tanks were besieging Vilnius. I flew away,
got to the gym let’s see if my arms
would end up touching in prayer
while striving to beat the load.
Then home. Seclusion, in low spirits,
a spirit will pay us a visit and we’ll call it
Our Spirit of Initiative, a word for those far apart,
warmth flowing via Skype, homemade apple pie.

The air is clean, doesn’t seem to carry anything.
The leaves would bring peace with their rustling.
Were it not for the numbers once they cease
being numbers on a screen. Were it not
for the red-and-yellow plastic ribbons
surrounding the swings, in deep surrender.

Leap and sprint, a gold medal in the long
jump of the species. All roads, empty roads,
lead to you. Yet, one morning in March 2020,
it’s me clinging onto you, me feeding
on your body and fame to make myself seen.


Charlie

Charlie the companion dog
in the oncology ward
looks lost as death sneaks in
from all directions.

Charlie was supposed to
comfort you and yet
specialized in something else:
barometer of a place’s climate,

Ears back and Charlie is downcast
since guessing is now child’s play;
since his smell and eyes got hit by
futures tumbling in identical sheets:

each printed black, turned the wrong side.
(I will not write another line on decay
nor on the cigarettes you were denied.
Nor see you again through a half-opened door).

Free will from inside the ward
must look like a luxury of sorts.
Maybe all the grief I cannot feel
got caught in Charlie’s thick hair.

 


Also, read My Father’s Mistress by Geeta Shri, Translated from The Hindi by Ayushee Arora, and published in The Antonym:

My Father’s Mistress— Geeta Shri


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Davide Castiglione

Davide Castiglione

Davide Castiglione was born in Alessandria, Italy, in 1985. He has been living in Vilnius where he is an associate professor in stylistics at the university since 2016, after obtaining a PhD from the University of Nottingham. He has published three poetry collections (all in Italian): Per ogni frazione (Campanotto, 2010);  Non di fortuna (Italic Pequod,  2017) and Doveri di una costruzione (Industria&Letteratura, 2022). Individual poems have also appeared in magazines and litblogs, including Atelier, Formavera, Interno Poesia, Il Segnale, Inchiostro, Italian Poetry Review, Le parole e le cose, L’Ulisse, Nuovi Argomenti, Poesia, and Poesia del nostro tempo. As a scholar, he has authored the monograph Difficulty in Poetry: a Stylistic Model (Palgrave, 2019) and various scientific articles on the language of poetry and on questions of literary theory. He is also a regular reviewer of contemporary Italian poetry. All the poems presented here are self-translated from Italian and come from his third collection Doveri di una costruzione (Duties of a construction).

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