Venerdi Santo, Cristo morirà ancora come ha fatto ogni anno poichè Dio sa quando.*
They held a New Orleans Funeral for Jesus:
Woodwinds, brass and the big bass drum.
After awhile the rain began to come;
Parishioners popped up their umbrellas,
Madonna was sacked to protect the stars
Spangling perfect electrified hair that
Should have been disheveled in grief.
Christ: unable to awaken, trapped in an opiate nightmare,
Pallid, couch-ridden, sick with flowers,
Widow-borne through the streets on a lacy bier.
Mary: politely dolorosa, her face more composed than that
Of the old mother dressed in black
Hanging out of the window to watch Her pass,
Baptizing the parading crowd with tears
Thrown out like old wash water.
What is left clean and what is soiled?
The sorrow of sin shifts from house to street
To be tracked back in on the slack-shod feet
Of grandchildren, dogs and beggared questions,
Salved in the last moment with words and oil:
quidquid deliquisti / in all that you have failed.
*Good Friday, Christ will die again As he’s done every year Since God knows when.
I found these poems by chance in a book amongst a pile of books and papers on a side table in an efficency apartment loaned to us in Caulonia (RC). I had never heard of Lucia d’Amato and, unfortunately, I don’t think you will find her book “Sostenere il sogno” anywhere other than this table, next to its clot of dusty papers. These few poems express the dense and lovely reflections of what I saw everyday that late winter and early spring in Caulonia Superiore.
Caldi passatempi nell'aria,
E un vago color mattone
parla di case abitate.
Un sonno silenzioso.
Warm passtimes in the air
and a vague brick colour
in the heart,
speaks of inhabited habitations.
A silent sleep.
LE PRIME ORE D’UN POMERIGGIO
Le prime ore
d'un pomeriggio brullo,
color di terra, di sabbia, e d'oro,
e la solennità
dei gochi più sereni
andando verso l'estate,
come un grosso pacco
la campagna si svolge.
Un gregge sta,
come una nevicata sporca
Da un rotolio di nuvole
sguscia il sole.
THE FIRST HOURS OF AN AFTERNOON
The first hours
of a bare afternoon,
Colour of earth, of sand,
and of gold,
and the solomnity
of weather's more serene games.
From Autumn to Winter
now tending towards summer,
the countryside unwraps herself
like a fat package.
A flock stands
like dirty snow fallen
from a roll of clouds
that just slip-shelled the sun.
nota bene: Original poems in Italian by Calabrian poet Lucia D’Amato as published in “Sostenere il Sogno”. Translations in English copyright 2009 Bonnie M. McClellan.
Unable to traverse the swallow’s path
Or tread roof tiles as the agile cat,
upon his brothers’ labouring backs
A polychrome Christ will make a rough pilgrimage of His own;
Pillar bound, to that church above from this one below.
Square-shouldered, tow-haired nine-year old will run and clap
His acolyte’s bell laughingly at black curls that lap
The tender nape of his fellow impenitent in Mary’s blue.
And so this honour guard will hew
four hundred years of progress’ path
Pelligrinago from first to last,
Across the stuck in stones.
AT 5:30 THIS AFTERNOON
Piazza della carmine is desirous of tumbling towards the sea.
Boys gyre round parked cars in this town the Greeks begot.
A truck full of music winds lamenting through the streets;
Calling forth ancient Eves to buy their compassionate widow’s tot
Of what, to Adam’s sweaty brow, this fallen earth bequeaths.
poem and photo copyright Bonnie McClellan 2011 all rights reserved
This poem is the third in a suite of poems written about 24 hours in Caulonia Superiore.
Cat spelunks the canyon down
picking through lichen broidered tile.
My lover's hands diagram, inform:
slab after slab of wet clay
curved across the thigh to pave
the high square meteres of the sparrows' way.
This mute arc reiterates the form
of what coulted femeur's slack desire?
Makers now in abandoned bone box stacked
Shout their names marked in black
at dull, dun, desanctified walls.
Amnesiac tiles cup together, deaf above
foxed timbers dressed in sixty years of lime.
They uphold each others' weight,
As distracted as August lovers
(lost thigh to sweaty thigh)
trying to topple not the slender wooden frame
of a kitchen chair.
Busy, keeping the rain out.
poem and photo copyright Bonnie McClellan 2009This is the first of a suite of 3 poems that treat 24 hours in Caulonia Superiore