Calabrian Chronicles: Translations of poetry by Lucia d’Amato

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.
casa a piazza della carmine caulonia

CALDI PASSATEMPI

Caldi passatempi nell'aria,
E un vago color mattone
nel cuore,
parla di case abitate.
Un sonno silenzioso.
L'inverno passa.

WARM PASSTIMES

Warm passtimes in the air
and a vague brick colour
in the heart,
speaks of inhabited habitations.
A silent sleep.
Wintertime passes.

view towards the sea from caulonia superioreLE 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
del tempo.
Dall'autunno al'inverno
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.

Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: El Pescador / Fingerprint:Ring

Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Il Pescador / Fingerprint:Ring
El Pescador/Fingerprint: Ring – a multimedia collage from “Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embroidered Errors.”

This will make more sense if you take a look at the previous pages of the Cultural Atlas of a Displaced Life: Embellished Errors

The title El Pescador is from the Mexican lotteria card (that somehow emigrated from Texas to Italy tucked between the pages of a book) included in the mixed media collage on the left hand page. Behind it is another hand print in marble dust on tissue painted round with lampblack. The hand print reaches towards a neon-pink sticker with my mother’s handwriting, towards an unreachable past from a composite future represented by El Pescador – the fisherman – who must always be anchored within in order not to be lost. Ironically, although the image is taken from my Texas cultural roots, the landscape on the card looks surprisingly like that of Lago Maggiore with the Alps in the background, a landscape I’ve addressed in two poems: Monte Rosa or the Picturesque and the Sublime, and Lombard Spring / Rondeau á Lago Maggiore.

The left hand page is connected to the right by a coat of white paint that covers (on the center left) an image of a person who has just opened a box (Pandora’s?), and is holding instructions for what to do with the contents but looks doubtful – again from IKEA. Living in a different cultural context with a different language and only the cultural map from my ‘mother-culture’ to navigate by was a bewildering sensation that I explored in Testimonio.

I found myself searching for constants, strangely comforted by being near the Mediterranean sea whose waters – in some slow, circumnavigation through white clouds and shifting currents – must have once broken on the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. Fingerprint:Ring expresses that unity through another universal language: hardware (no, not the computer kind). A pencil drawing of a hose clamp, comfortingly the same in any country, neither metric nor standard, adjustable with a flat-head screwdriver, a slender coin, or the tip of a butter knife. At the top left of the page, my pale, smeary fingerprint, an intentional error, both unique and universal.

Calabrian Chronicles: Caulonia, and so we begin…

The drive in to Caulonia
The drive in to Caulonia

It’s still incredibly beautiful here. I forgot. In the spaces between the rains the sky runs and falls; gathers itself and plunges again towards the sea. Cumulonimbus titans strike their shins on the horizon line as they stumble through the Mediterranean, dead drunk and anxious to reach Ithaca. This is a place where mothers still name their sons Ulysses.

Caulonia under stomy skies.
Caulonia superiore under stomy skies.

The houses are like barnacles on a rock; roof tiles buried in lichen and slathered with concrete where they meet at the crown in an uneasy sea-sick ridge. Below the rust-eaten white iron boundary of the balcony-rail I can see two flaps of a prickly pear struggling out from between two heavy arcs of terracotta.

Morning light on the Ionian Sea
Morning light on the Ionian Sea from Piazza Belvedere

The edge of the sky at dawn over the water is like Montale’s description, a singing strip of metal lath, a kite string straining against the rebounding vault of blue. His was the western sea, the Ligurian coast, a sunset light. Here the Ionian dawn makes eastern music…Jove’s mute mistress writes her name in the sand with a round hoof…IO.

Gioiosa Ionica
Gioiosa Ionica
Looking up at Caulonia from the East.
Looking up at Caulonia Superiore from the East.

Estate al Mare Liguriana

Le cose grandi, la vista larga, sono generiche. La costa mediterranea c’è piena di lavanda e gli altri arbusti, essiccati sotto il sole d’estate, che emanano il profumo di curry e timo. L’occhio e la bocca prèndono il sapore di qualcosa stringata ed ocra nel mezzo di questa verde bruciata. Che lascia un sapore metallico sulla punta della lingua, nel bacino della retina, nichel-cadmio, un centesimo leccato.

C’è anche il mare stesso che diffonde tutto. I piccoli sassi stanno nel fondale marino mormorando: “Zita…zita…zita…” alle onde felici e turbolente. Le onde si occupano di ridisegnare il litorale; scavano sempre più sassi per consigliare il silenzio.  Alla riva, qualche sassi hanno preso il colore del rame ossidato che emerge dal caos generale di grigio striato con bianco.

Le cose chi sono particolare sono contemporaneamente universale dai terrazzi delle apertamente in affitto per l’estate: la banalità di bougainvillea e cedro; il cemento e le piastrelle; la tavola bianca, il parasole della spiega, le sedie pieghevole; i zaini stipato di teli da mare. A terra, tra i formici, sono briccole e i giocattoli di plastica. Sopra la tavola è l’ombrellone e l’ombra della farfalla circumvolante la su.

Dove è qui, esattamente? FRAMURA, frazione ANZO sopra COSTA e la stazione ferroviaria. Le sedie pieghevoli sono i tipi vecchi, fatto in legna con i meccanismi in metallo un po’ arrugginito. Una volta sono stati verniciati di bianco ma, forse l’anno scorso, qualcuno ha riverniciato un colore che il colorificio potrebbe chiamare  “Cotê d’Azure”. L’ombrellone sopra la tavola è coperto in una tela rossa-ciliegia distesa sul sei stecche di legno. Un fruttuoso ramo di cedro ha invaso il spazio sotto il bordo dal ombrellone più lontano da me. Tutti i faci degli fogli chi stanno guardando sopra prendano la luce riflessa e fanno la sfumatura cromatica: rosso-rossiccio-marone-nero. Il contrasto tra il verde sotto e la superficie rossoscuro degli fogli fa ogni margine di transizione nitido come una lettera d’araba incisa in argento.