by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Edith Bruck (1932-), ‘Amica sorella compagna nemica’

Friend sister comrade enemy
for one gesture of yours my pain
could still change and dissolve
at the tip of a mulberry tree
on the sleigh of two planks nailed
by the boy who behind the stable
would caress between our legs with feathers so soft.
On the wings of your smile
I’d have flown to pick
the same yellow stars shaking on carts
creaking sunflowers in the wind
in the fields where we toiled as
labourers and played with dolls
of stolen corn.
One word of yours would’ve erased
the insult of the fierce officers
in the uniform woven out of hate
contagious and spread widely
by teachers priests lords
uncontested owners of consciences;
one gesture of yours (not the crossed greeting)
would’ve distracted my
attention from the assent
expressed by children too
urged to clap the coloured
feathers fluttering merrily
trotting on horses attacked
by the Jewish dogs Jewish dogs!
Friend sister comrade enemy
your silence is reflected
in the eyes of Eve who wouldn’t climb the mulberry
so she wouldn’t dirty her dress
and ate chocolate and bread in the afternoon,
remember the little lady?
No longer afraid
that her mother might find her in my company
she’s naked bald light
I drag her to the top of a pyramid
of corpses to place her close to God
(whom she believed in) wanted for the murders
happening in front of his eyes.

Featured image: Edith Bruck via Purdue University Press

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