Emilio Villa

(1914 – 2003 / Italy)

1941 Piece


It could be
that on any given
day air would travel
half-heartedly through the air,

maybe, but if Lake Garda fails to recover in time
all the dust eaten by cyclists in meaningless races,
and kilometers that don't count, good for nothing,

maybe, as long as the ozone and the horizontal rain
speak to traffic cops with nickeled stands of poplar
about ideal jubilees, communism fresh as a rose

and then we would feel
as if in our chests mangled by spears,
thoughtful devotions, affections, vanities,
our dioceses were to drown one by one
little by little, and inside the other
ephemeral vase of air, shipwrecked people
were to surface
with a brotherly laugh, but without
the body dense as a body or as any thing

and as long as the dodging capon,
trapped on the edge of the fog or within
autumn's violet stubble, failed to die
heroically wounded by that pocket knife thrown
by chance, stuck in his shins until blood is spilled; or

as long as the train's smell slithers to checkpoints
and realizes in the end that the world's nights
and the lowing from the stalls of Brianza, and the breath

of foreign fodder, and the air filled
with a stew of local beef, and the change
of musical coins across the zinc counter, will touch
the firmament with frosted hands: and then

some agate marbles concealed in the panic snore
of those poplars will serve as lamps or blinds

and it's not like the heavens
are a sound, bottomless investment, or a mine
devoid of fatherland and feeling

therefore, let the troops hurry like shades with coats
on the borders rubbing mile after mile,
year after year; and more so the hidden anguish of breaths
grows here in the fatherland and furthermore freezes
in this chaos, and here the fish seeps out,
like mandatory nostalgia for the northern star, and
the train's snake-like turns, stops, the long
detours through the countryside, through the nocturnal
paint of drizzling rain and murk

thus, drunk with weakness facing the earthly dream
where the stones of Europe mature, where stately
gardens float in the naviglio of peace,
nations devised in the dreams of strange
prime ministers with rocks in their heads

drunk with emotion the last seafarer or engineer
or fresh water sailor, or athlete at the track,
forgotten the silvery shimmer of canals and verdure,
the murmur of pewter silverware washed
in doorways opening onto towpaths
in that slow after-supper idleness, let him go
beyond the soul

and then again, beyond the soul everything is a mirror
of celestial Catholic confusion, nor do we want to
believe in our bodies too much, this mirror, enough,
for the time being, with this annoying light

yet meanwhile the rest of us exist, both one and the other,
fearfully, reverentially, and then,
rising from the busy welfare rolls
we pass, like sickly clouds, toward the fine liquor
of the Atlantic, at the county's end,
without the noise of borders or hallways: that's where

everything will be vague and flawless, everything
in common; there, not a single strip of twilight
ever appears stronger than the night

electric, fish-like.

Submitted: Saturday, August 02, 2014

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