Seven Contemporary Italian Poets (5/7)


Florinda Fusco, translated by Laura Modigliani:


I count the bones           now that you are almost close enough

           behind the glass pane           the hand pushes but does not reach

the body bent over  to embroider a forest            with pins

                     steady, so as not to prick oneself

           wrinkles grow on the skin    like roots, trees
little by little I chop off my fingers
my tongue           the other tongue

                      covered with moss
                         all the way to the throat


put a sky in my navel                      and I will give you all my

     the bones interlaced with iron threads                      the weight of the flesh

           pressed on the earth                       the hair grown into needles

examine the body splayed its imperceptible movements            the foot light as

                     I will not open my mouth of concrete

                   to say to you

                      come back later, it is always too soon


they told me the dead                         are present at the ceremonies

              they arrive on time            they are always behind you

the women wear big hats                and long blue gloves

they carry necklaces of white beads            inviolable like rosaries

                                  you don’t notice their light step

                                                        you don’t smell their scent among
the guests

                                                you don’t see their bare foot on the

                                 the dead walk on the earth

they mingle in the hair

                                slide down the neck, between
                      the ribs, in the veins, all the way to
the nails of the foot

the day                                           they alight on the glaze of
the plates

                    or in the bottom of glasses          

                      in silence we drink them


trunks of veins            grow over me            cross me

                      in the house there are neither stones nor bones

                                                        to form into toys

I loosen my braids                      to make a blanket to cover me

                I play by myself         plant nails into the earth

                        wait for the tree of the resurrected


an ermine         struck         at the center

of my forehead                 under the swollen skin

a trickle of blood        drips         down the body         to the feet

        as I embroider the skin                 held inside a frame

           the canvases ooze

faces of ancestors  surface         from the backs of paintings

they stare at me  they answer questions  with questions  and don’t ask for

they tell me of a fragment of sky                      under the foot or
in the empty glass            of my felt blindfold stretched across my eyes

they do not make appointments so as not to meet me           they do not read me

their stopped watches            they do not invite me to the banquet of the

                     I measure the chest, the cavity,          
            the depth of the scratch, the cracks of memory

I lay down my crowns                      of the queen of lost memory

                      there is no gauze for my carpet of blood

Florinda Fusco was born in Bari in 1972. Her books of poetry include linee [Lines] (Editrice Zona 2001) and il libro delle madonne scure [The Book of Dark Women] (Mazzoli 2003), illustrated by Luigi Ontani, which received the Premio Delfini. Her critical and poetic works have been published in various Italian journals and anthologies. Her work has been translated in English and French, and published in French and Canadian anthologies. She has translated from Spanish the work of Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, which won a national translation prize (2004). She has published many essays on Edoardo Cacciatore and is working on a monograph of Amelia Rosselli.

Laura Modigliani lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her poems have appeared in such journals as MiPOesias, Promethean, sic, The One Three Eight, Poetry in Performance, and The Blue Jew Yorker, and her translations have appeared in Fascicle. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007 and 2008. She received the Malinche Prize for Literary Translation in 2007 and the Jack Zucker Memorial Prize in Poetry in 2005 from The City College of New York, where she received an MFA degree in Poetry. She works as an Associate Editor at Weekly Reader Publishing.


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