by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spaces
sparks fixed upon the black-blue
of the Northern Hemisphere,
cosmic carts,
alive eyes responding to eyes
of a pilot guarding their ship
guarding their sleeping shipmates,
ancient certainty of Ursa Major
and of Ursa Minor
rampant in the dark with claws of light:
I find no word to express you.

Stubborn, I analyse the atoms
of your matter and your
chemical structure: hydrogen,
helium, oxygen, nitrogen,
magnesium, iron, and more
obedient to the laws of nature
of gravitation
of radiation, of gases –
and I arrive at your interpretation
in exact measures of pressure,
temperature, density.
I try and try again, I examine: the science
does not disclose the secret
nor the word that expresses you,
unattainable creatures
of mystical myths:
you remain syllables
of that celestial dictionary
beginning prior to the Alpha and extending
beyond the Omega.

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