trans. Amy Newman

Lying


Now is the mild annihilation
of swimming on one’s back,
with the sun in the face
—the brain permeated by red
across the closed eyelids—.
Tonight, on the bed, in the same posture,
the dreamy whiteness
of drinking in,
with wide eyes,
the white soul of the night.

Antonia Pozzi

Giacere


Ora l'annientamento blando
di nuotare riversa,
col sole in viso
—il cervello penetrato di rosso
traverso le palpebre chiuse—.
Stasera, sopra il letto, nella stessa postura,
il candore trasognato
di bere,
con le pupille larghe,
l'anima bianca della notte.

 

The Hands on the Wounds

for A.M.C.

And when you’ve gone
brother, I will follow the white road
shrouded in mist.                   
The tide will go on striking            
like a weak, black wing: down the old walls,   
some cries of green and scarlet,
vine, ivy, vetch.
There will be such silence near there:            
a silence of waiting.
Then I will soften my voice,
lighten my steps:
I’ll enter into the place of the afflicted
like a child who enters his dream
of paradise, where all is white.
There won’t be any faces, or hair,
or age, or names: there will be a whiteness    
infinite, ravenous.                    
But from the whiteness, a thousand reddish screams
will rise: oh hands,
bruised, fallen above the blankets
hands you move like claws
above the open sores
to defend them by scratching, or to tear them;
hands that have in you all the pain
and the mystery of being;
I’ll put lightly, one day, my hands
above you. And there where the silence
is an anticipation of death or of salvation,            
the silence and the faith will clothe
my naked existence.
Brother, I will lighten my breathing,
my soul light and certain
above the vast human suffering:
inside the lips of all the wounds
I’ll stanch your blood.
Through the eyelids of everyone tortured
I will dry your tears.

Le mani sulle piaghe

ad A.M.C.

E quando tu te ne sarai andato,
fratello, io seguirò la bianca strada
ovattata di nebbia.
L'acqua andrà remigando come un'ala
languida e nera: giù dai vecchi muri,
qualche grido di verde e di scarlatto,
vite, edera, veccia.
Tanto silenzio ci sarà, lì presso:
un silenzio d'attesa.
Allora farò lieve la mia voce,
farò lievi i miei passi:
m'inoltrerò nel luogo dei malati
come il bimbo che entra in un suo sogno
di paradiso, dove tutto è bianco.
Non ci saran più volti, né capelli,
né età, né nomi: ci sarà un candore
infinito, vorace.
Ma, dal candore, mille urli rossastri
si leveranno: oh, mani
livide, abbandonate sulle coltri;
mani che vi portate come artigli
sopra le piaghe aperte
per difenderle a unghiate o per squarciarle;
mani che avete in voi tutto il dolore
e il mistero dell'essere;
io farò lievi, un giorno, le mie mani
sopra di voi. E là dove il silenzio
è un'attesa di morte o di salvezza,
il silenzio e la fede vestiranno
la mia esistenza nuda.
Fratello, io farò lieve il mio respiro,
l'anima mia farò lieve e sicura
sopra il gran male umano:
dentro i labbri di tutte le ferite
io stagnerò il tuo sangue,
fra le ciglia di ognuno che si strazia
asciugerò il tuo pianto.

 

Lightning


Tonight a trembling sky
sick with black clouds
sharpens in brilliant flashes
my sleepless desire
and makes it hard and bright
like a blade of steel.

Lampi


Stanotte un sussultante cielo
malato di nuvole nere
acuisce a sprazzi vividi
il mio desiderio insonne
e lo fa duro e lucente
come una lama d'acciaio.

 

Antonia Pozzi was born 13 February 1912 in Milan, and took her life on 3 December 1938. None of her poetry was published during her lifetime. Among her papers are notebooks containing over 300 poems, a number of which were posthumously altered by her father Roberto, and then published. In 1989, editors Alessandra Cenni and Onorina Dino restored the poems to their original form in Parole, an authoritative text of Pozzi’s poetry, the most recently revised edition of which is Tutte le opera (2009), edited by Cenni.

Amy Newman is the author of five books, including On this Day in Poetry History, published by Persea in 2016. Other books include fall and Dear Editor. Recognition for her work includes The Beatrice Hawley Prize, The Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Prize, fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and the Illinois and Ohio Arts Councils, and The Friends of Literature Prize from Poetry for her poem “Howl.” She teaches at Northern Illinois University.