now inside you in ruins
the house caved in overnight, now
the cement mixer is chewing lime
of all the rooms remains
the plastered hollow of the stomach.
You stamp on its stagnant puddles
and the saliva going down
to be buried.
the days pass away, flicker out,
embers in the cold sky, everyone
hurrying to cover up fear,
trying to breathe in unison
to the rhythm of the species. Only you
are reading under the blankets
and fall asleep.
from this barricaded apartment
you watch friends darkening with the seasons
genealogies from the sweater’s threads.
Footprints of extinct animals
call out to you,
the galaxies blooming on the balcony.
I come closer, you evaporate like breath
on the glass. I open my arms,
hug your ancient trunk
and find myself alone,
looking like a cross
planted on a peak.
I peer into the darkness with its
moving ropes and hear
the luminous ship coming to a halt.
I reserve the departure and announce it
again: beyond the grille of the door
the void rises like a tower;
and near me someone is anchored
and scatters down the street.
From this landing I can’t tell
if the ropes are rising or falling, but I see
the image of myself increasingly impatient
to step out onto a kind of ground
trodden many times.
from Mala kruna (2007), now included in A un’ora da sonno da qui, Edizioni Italic Pequod, 2018.
Franca Mancinelli was born in Fano, Italy, in 1981. Her first two books of verse poetry, Mala kruna (2007) and Pasta madre (2013), were awarded several prizes in Italy and have now been republished together as A un’ora di sonno da qui (2018). In 2018 also appeared her collection of prose poems, Libretto di transito, translated by John Taylor into English as The Little Book of Passage and published by The Bitter Oleander Press.
John Taylor is an American writer, critic, and translator who lives in France. Among his translations of French and Italian poetry are books by Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Dupin, José-Flore Tappy, Pierre Voélin, Pierre Chappuis, Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Lorenzo Calogero, and Alfredo de Palchi. He is the author of several volumes of short prose and poetry, most recently The Dark Brightness, Grassy Stairways, and Remembrance of Water & Twenty-Five Trees.