Translated from the Italian by Patrick Williamson
Repertory of skies.
Giotto cobalt and distilled sorrow Beato Angelico whispering madonnas and winged angels Andrea del Castagno storm and grief Piero della Francesca torn velvet Botticelli flowing water and anguish Perugino Oriental opal and smile Mantegna breath of the sun Bellini nostalgia for Paradise and purple, ravaged sea Raphael opaque emerald Caravaggio dark horror Canaletto silk, butterflies and languorou roses Turner pure gold in the splendour of twilight Poussin lapis lazuli and angry wind Lorrain mist of jade and weeping Vermeer satin melancholy Monet water lilies and dew Savinio divine Olympus Scipio lust and blood Not the sky of Rome Unique, timeless in all its glory. __
They’re taking them all away.
Yes, they’re taking them all away, all of them.
When? Now. Immediately.
They’re taking them all away, all of them.
For no reason. There is no reason.
The cry will always be a cry, always.
The cry will always resound, always.
What about the children? Don’t the children cry out?
You have to hear them. It’s madness.
And the grown-ups? Don’t grown-ups suffer?
What about old people? Don’t old people feel?
Their skin is so fragile…
And the heart? Their hearts? Don’t hearts suffer?
Breath? Oxygen? Is there no need for that?
How do you manage without oxygen?
What about water? Water is rationed too.
Gas, bread, wood…
It’s cold, in the house, outside, in our bones.
Me? Who am I? And the others?
Life? Gone, all life gone.
Everything is dead now:
you can open the window,
there’s a little dull wind,
sirocco, no playthings
in this glimpse of evening,
no prayer, no God
of the morning, hope, litany
of the dead, all lost
in ravines, earth –
the same earth of flowers, gladioli,
the same earth of strawberry trees, daffodils –
but now that the stove’s cold
and the dishes are ready, the food waiting
to be eaten,
you don’t think about the earth,
one sinks one’s hands between the stems
of cutlery, the forks,
the napkins pressed and clean,
you caress the glasses,
kiss the bowls
and flutter eyelashes at eyes
turned to looks…
Hematology clinic (1)
I, too, have been a living body,
don’t look at me now
I can hardly breathe
in this very same hospital
the material place of health and illness,
forget – if you can – these hands of mine
bare, stained, trembling,
my exhausted lips, my eyes
dazzled by the pallor of my face,
no more laughter at my bedside,
how the needle hurts so,
not content with digging into the network
of veins, once stainless arteries,
overlapping bones, fingertips…
How beautiful the wasted
minutes, lost afternoons,
empty, eventless Sundays,
privations, while the sirocco on the windows
misted the plane trees on the river
the Aniene beyond terraces ambered
by the sunset (for I turned to the West
and every balcony in this stretch
of the new and already unmade district,
the Tiburtina, Rebibbia where you were
already, Pasolini, poet repudiated
by the petty, privateer and lutheran,
in these alleys of illegal borgate,
grown up crippling the countryside,
the flat valley of the Aniene)
how beautiful the minutes, the hours
of certain Saturdays without consolation,
the uncertain love, the lost good,
Hematology clinic (2)
Pain that comes unsalted
And you, cerebro-spinal ganglion
Vibrating in the dark gravity of everything
Pure pain and sweetness
Gasping of a dead soul
Gasping of the body undone
Sound and shining night
Splendour in the darkness of the senses
Abandoned to the currents of eyes
Cream and honey of sleep
Steel and lead shoes
Dark root of evil
Bottomless being, sea
Latrine of the world, bold
Storm of dreams, deadly sword
That harms the cerebro-spinal ganglia
Power of the senses, death
Soft thighs of sleep
Splendour of comfort, cloud-bearer
Gravity of snow, gladioli
Scattered curls of sleep
Greatness of hidden glaciers
Pyramids of perennial snows
Senseless storms of the heart
Hematology clinic (3)
Who knows, my dear,
on what dark, gloomy edge
cruel weather will strand us,
to what unusual port
the huge slow-planking ship
will lead us, hostile,
barely bumping against the quay,
whether hospital ship or sedan chair,
coffin or kite
enchanted reed swaying
to the purple waves of a summer sunset…
Who knows, abusing our patience,
or rather my impatience,
what gifts, juicy or bitter fruits, it will bring.
bandages, gauze, white bandages or flowers…
morphine or melatonin,
carnitine or vitamin,
dear, flesh of my flesh
you are not, but flesh we are
both of us and ashes we shall be
or maybe rainbow foam
flake of cloud and piece of sky.