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.
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
“A minor seventh concordant soundswith this planched hillside and my dry mouth.Acrid greenness that smells like a copper cointipped to the tongue.Secco, secchio. Mare, ammaro.”
The big things, the wide things, are general. The Mediterranean coast line full of lavender, and other sun baked shrubs that exude the smell of curry and thyme. The eye and the mouth taste something astringent and ochre in this intense green baked soft. It leaves a metallic twinge on the tip of my tongue, on the basin of my retina, nickel cadmium, a licked penny.
The water diffuses everything, the small stones that line the undersea shelf shush-hush-shushing the smack-happy surface which is busy redrawing the coastline; excavating more stones to council silence. Onshore, some of these stones have gone utterly verdigris, church-dome green arching up from the general chaos of grey-scale slashed with white.
What is specific and at the same time wildly general to the vacation house terraces, repeated with small variations along the Mediterranean coast: the banality of bougainvillea and lime, the white table, the beach umbrella, the backpacks crammed with towels, folding chairs, concrete, tile, the ground scattered with ants, crumbs and a child’s plastic toys, the taut umbrella over the table and the shadow of the butterfly that crosses above it.
What is exactly here? FRAMURA, frazione ANZO the lower section but above COSTA and the train station. Folding chairs, the old kind that are made of wood and metal with a little rust, at one point they were white but have been repainted with a colour the paint store has labeled ‘azure’. The umbrella over the table is a deep cherry red. It has six wooden ribs. The branch of a lime tree with one lime has tucked up underneath the umbrella’s far edge. All the parts of the lime leaves facing up towards the inside of the umbrella are catching the reflected red, turning these sides into a chromatic shift of red-russet-brown-black. The contrast between the green of the underside of the leaf and it’s reddark surface makes each transitional edge as hard and clean as a struck blank.
I would I were a wingéd thing
And these white stones not bruised my feet.
From half sky’s arc this groundscape see;
Like girasoleil and moth at once.
Face then Gomorrah’s candled sun,
And false to God like Mrs. Lot
Turn arbre-form in Halite caught;
Qualcosa utile, quotidienne.
Ground down and lightly sown across
Unrisen flower and fragrant oil;
Then in the mouth of Adam lost
Mineral dust to dust returned.
poem copyright Bonnie McClellan 2009
“The eye comes always ancient to its work, obsessed by its own past and by old and new insinuations of the ear, nose, tongue, fingers, heart, and brain. It functions not as an instrument self-powered and alone, but as a dutiful memeber of a complex and capricious organism.”
– Nelson Goodman from “Languages of Art
This poem is one in a series that I am currently writing that takes it’s inspiration from the rhythms and subject matter of sacred texts varied and sundry. It is also the fruit of my continuing struggle as a poet to reconcile the three languages that jostle for position in my work as I am searching for exactly the right word. This particular piece is inspired by the rhythm of the Latin Hymn “O SALUTARIAS HOSTIA”. The content inspired by conversations had with the Artist, Matthew Broussard and the film director, Michangelo Frammartino about Pythagoras’ four states of being: Human, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. The concept of the observed walk as a transformative experience is also inspired in part by the work of sculptor Richard Long.