TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN BY PATRICK WILLIAMSON
It blew like the roar of open horns that you only drink in on the day of madness when
you’re allowed to take out the face you always keep on, exaggerate the word and stain yourself well, so it blew
and we didn’t have much to do except stay close, as oxen do, the white winged pair.
On a promontory far away like the isolated figures in those paintings where one only performs, in the distance
you can see something a man doing something not really important because what matters
is that he is only just seen to act, that you keep in mind his place in that new world
the distance between the portion of your look and all that light. Something stretches the bodies to one side
like ancient meridians traced with a firm hand and a hard wrist, the wind seems that of ballads
everything a warning, a reproach. Every now and then we still have to rise up and crouch but when the world
becomes a bit slanting it is difficult to stand, the earth wants you to lie down at all costs
and someone then assents: you lie on the sand, you hold on like this, long long, you make yourself last.
Someone on the side leans out looking for a cliff this makes you feel better because this form of extension
slightly frightens those who only go as far as they can. Everything seems like a slanting picture, a topsy-turvy
into which you rush by force, you end up under a frame, something
far away gallops, a horse, a white dream.
Different coasts, other men with brown faces as high as broken towers stand before us
peoples who do not reveal themselves, frontal peoples made of purples, distant houses reign
with red-faced captains, the gods almost always provide. We don’t know
where we are, we are distant, something, the indistinct, dominates here, vision alone is enough
to make contact, everything raised as in quests, in advances, on battle plains
where you can only see banners in wide open space and the distant colour of an enemy.
Not easy to answer if someone asks where you are, confusing to grasp who’s walking who’s standing still
who’s writing who’s upright on coves, everything’s tapered says things in lush language, languages of the will.
You can see a line walking on the left and the world raining suddenly
if you squint enough, if you keep your look suspended as if through open long binoculars.
men seem to be making strange huts for days and days and everything a bundle of plants growing horizontal
to produce huge sand cones, cows in the water so big that their heads stick out
like a big watery buoy, and someone rides underwater, barely visible: a child
a blond man, a big blue fish. There are different sizes around here, children
grow up not knowing what geological shape it is, you see them looking for play sand
that fits in the palm without falling, they are pure tools they are, bright kids and they’re all
the same height under this light, by a strange, all-natural joke that makes the bodies
equal in their pallor, and they’re all similar. Someone lying down keeps his eyes on the water
everything has the light I can see now and we seem to have been saved today
it seems like the dream of the ox kicking and the man saved by a miracle.
From afar, you can hear drawn-out leaps and spiky plants emerge from the water, everything’s ready
and the road goes on straight as a pale caress, a horse trudging along.
Someone confirms there are mountains around here, high mountains, fit for breathing
complete order doesn’t matter here, it only matters that one looks, that one slowly whitens
patiently until the end, actions are mobile inconstant apparitions
only the pace is kept, and the flat air that is to sigh for. I look at bulging eyes
the fish are improvised seagulls, everything now leads to the edge of its own duration.
In the seas if you lose your hearing a little while, if you give up one sense to sharpen the other
you see women walk on the water, big white horses advance like a long line of people
pursued. You walk next to the grown-ups you know the way of the sea and hold fish by the tail
with the mouth grooming white cows that have their children’s name, how beautiful you are in this new world
we’ll walk another hour tonight, someone will tell us where this wide sea ends
where the mountain slopes down, what happens to the blackbird when its swoops down and flies
high over the deer. You see the light turn white, exist in your sight alone
you see the white I say below, in the world to one side
in this long spread-out beach, in this world in which we only have less time.
Someone says there is a passage in these parts, a place where one enters one at a time
holding one’s breath, abandoning in the light the circumferences, the forms one has always had.
The journey advances, does an accomplished about-turn, and you see the participating figures
balance like blue ghosts, you’re never sure who they are
the actions fade ever so slowly
glimpsed gestures remain: an elbow, a palm, a back that bridges
and stretches across the sand, to show that when the passage is open
one must curl the body in suspension, aim high
your gaze like a water hare and you hope to find yourself safe.
The path is a massive roar and one must persist in the vowels, hold
intact this form of breath, observe how a sound is lost
when it knows it is the last, when having reached a point in the dream
it becomes right for it to dissolve.
How white you are now in the light, in this spreading bay, my mother my father neighbours all the family
and brothers, so many, around here, mingling whose children. Something from afar shuns sight
a white fountain filled with battlements pierces the gaze, and one hears the songs of the past, the waiting
that way of making light that the day had. I see you sitting dead on the shore
dying white to show that you leave first and that I at last
I have to pray for you, the water soaks me and I am alone in this place that is so open,
make way for me here, for these blue clods that know not of the world
for this shape that the planet has today so close so clear to white
I meet four fish and I wait for the White Man, God always comes from the Other side.
Also, read Naked & Other Poems by Francisca Paz Rojas translated from the Italian by Brenda Porster, and published in the Antonym: