FACING FORWARD – COLLE DI MASSENZIO

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Silvia Bre (1952-), ‘Colle di Massenzio – Prospettiva frontale’.

The wind is always here in this place this time of year.
Maybe you depend on traditions like this one –
the points you connect collect the space
and you breathe. And you admire it,
you compare it to the sky triumphing
at the immeasurable height of its arches.

It’ll be the right night not to say it,
you already are in the clear season
which begins to drag itself away from nothing
with nothing changing. It’s the special flowers
willing to bloom in you as you look.
You don’t know who you are: in the light of darkness you recognise
there are only two of you, like every night in the world,
the same two, always the same two, both struck.
Before the stage of the great ruins
you stand like the air that forms them now
in the matter where they revolve, alive,
raising their beams to the pines.
It helps to be quiet when a sweet animal surprise
returns to your face –
among the immense distances in which the mind is immersed
there is a moving inching closer to its sight.

But you find yourself wandering with the dogs
scratching the ground
to bury their bone in the folly
of guarding it forever,
the same temptation of yours of braking
a life scene into a slow
intimate occasion.
You cannot hit its heart: it beats in the views,
in this one assaulting you,
and the tighter it holds the more it looks like you.
Its features are like yours, your fading
into other features to know, and so on,
appearances that yield
to the silent ways of comets –
their sum is the unit we catch sight of:
this is the moment of clear invention.
There is no tomorrow for what you have to say
and there is no time, if not in the vertigo
of rhythm so remote that announces us
as we, more than earthly, announce it.
But honour your abstract thoughts
before the first step that detaches them
before they are shaken by the instinct of the real.
And be quiet again once you’ve thought them,
think that you never sung them so well
as from a limbo lit up with attention,
fixed before them, deaf beings,
fixed, before them with no name
as poor children of love.
Now sleep.

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