Translated from the Italian by Danielle Pieratti
Venice Asleep in Fog
Like the flat belly of water vast horizontal fog blurs with breath as the notion of contour seeps gradually into the dream. The posts that appear closer to shore quiet the mind with the number three. Ducks and gulls flock to this familiar still lagoon with its hidden cemetery center and from that world a face appears severe and stoic and cloaked in fog. Recovering I gather the echo of song even prayer and guess beyond the mist a slit of blue. Through this sudden void the sleeping city’s ancient grace evaporates.
It was earth among seas an imperfect circle of mountain and plain deep, close valleys no beach or cliff or gulf just hard arches among the dark stones’ volcanic start. There had been fire and burst under the sea the preternatural bellow of bull strung in the center of one rare lightless star the light in its watery womb full and tight moaning to birth an entire cusp of blighted rocks without rivers or springs or beaches or sweet coasts peaceless mountain the tight valley and those arches of stone on that first sea. Because even before the uprise the thousand-year calm was submerged, satisfied in its airless sleep in the bowed Angel’s deep, careful quiet his head hidden between wings two pairs of them two boundless whites such a long wait such persistent sadness.
Parts of Misfortune
They put the bomb in a wastebasket, on one side of the square. It exploded in the middle of the crowd. --Brescia, May 28, 1974 Few remember his face since his voice stole its features and secretly that day as in these cases is usual it was he who was chosen for the journey now that image of him with his right fist raised must remain for the rest a last phrase in our memories that in the middle of the square in the open road in the uttered word we still believed not knowing the enemy has many faces and attacks from all flanks from that dark corner especially so clearly cast out how the uselessness of our hands the cause for good or justice surprises us so that we can’t know a moment later the stones still live between the flames and the ally grimacing at my side is so like Icarus his grotesqueness pains me in the mayhem a play begins without warning and for which we’re dealt parts of misfortune and that horror overtakes us and its cry claims us but someone gazed faroff is there beyond the pillar of smoke and the shred of tears that take aim blindly —-stray shot or rogue arrow that the hunter’s eye won’t follow—- toward a strip of cloudless blue safely distant who turning is bound today for always unbounding promise or ruin hang on the viewer sightless mirror dream undreamed sudden aurora’s secretest voice that opens roads and proffers keys to our hell and two steps further
Martha Canfield was born in Uruguay to parents of Italian and Irish descent. She is the author of eleven books of Italian and Spanish-language poetry and three anthologies. Her most recent book, Luna di Giorno, was one of three finalists for the 2018 Premio Letterario Caput Gauri, and she has won multiple awards for her work in Latin America and Italy.
Danielle Pieratti‘s poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Boston Review, Sixth Finch, Rhino, Cream City Review, and elsewhere. Her first book, Fugitives (Lost Horse Press, 2016) was selected by Kim Addonizio for the Idaho Prize and won the Connecticut Book Award for Poetry in 2017.