(after Federico Garcia Lorca)
When I feel lonely
your ten years still remain with me,
the three blind horses,
your countless expressions and the little
frozen fevers under maize leaves.
At midnight cancer strode out into the halls
and spoke with the empty shells of
live cancer full of clouds and thermometers,
with its chaste desire of an apple
to be pecked by nightingales.
In the house where there’s no cancer
white walls break in the frenzy of
and in the smallest stables, in the crosses
for many years the fulgor
of the burnings glows.
My sorrow bled in the evenings
when your eyes were two stones,
when your hands were two townships
and my body the whisper of grass.
My agony was looking for its dress.
It was dusty, bitten by bugs,
and you followed it without trembling
to the threshold of dark water.
Silly and handsome
among the gentle creatures,
with your mother fractured by the village
with one brother under the arches
and another eaten by anthills,
and cancer beating at the doors!
Some nannies give children
milk of nastiness, and it’s true
that some people will throw doves into
Your ignorance is a river of lions.
The day malaria clobbered you
and spat you in the dorm
where the guests of the epidemic died,
you looked for my agony in the grass,
my agony with flowers of terror,
while the voiceless fierce cancer
that wants to sleep with you
pulverized red landscapes in the sheets
and put inside hearses
tiny frozen trees of boric acid.
With your jew’s harps,
go to the wood to learn antennae words
that sleep in tree trunks, in clouds,
in the wind, in lilies, in deep waters,
so that your learn what your country
When the roar of war begins
I will leave a juicy bone for your dog
at the factory. Your ten years will be
the leaves that fly in the clothes of
ten roses of frail sulfur
on the shoulder of the dawn.
Forgotten, your wilted face
pressed to my mouth, my son,
I will be alone and enter,
screaming, the green statues of cancer.
This poem is reprinted by permission from Wordgathering, an online journal of disability poetry. Ned Condini is a translator and a poetry and fiction writer. Chelsea Editions will soon publish his translation of Carlo Betocchi’s selected works, Awakenings. Among his other awards, he won first prize in the inaugural Winning Writers War Poetry Contest in 2002. His publications include The Earth’s Wall: Selected Poems by Giorgio Caproni, available from Chelsea Editions, P.O. Box 773, Cooper Station, NYC, NY 10276.