A poem by  Alfonso Gatto, translated by Lisa Mullenneaux 

If you only knew, Italy
is a poor land where man
is born with the dead, blue with the stones
of ages, the cathedral next to his house.
She has blue evenings
and dark swallows on her cornices,
the whole world is the fragrance
of a field of wildflowers, of the sea
lost in its own color.
And nothing is left her but to call,
nothing is left but to love
dead things
lost things
the moon on the doors
and mute faces.

If you only knew, Italy
is the poor land where one hopes to say
goodbye to the mountains, where
moon-bleached villages stretch
at evening into the arms of their mothers.
And all this is so tender, distant—
lanterns where flames tremble
on ships at sea, sleep easily broken
by babies’ cries.
And nothing is left us but to be quiet
through all the long evenings,
nothing left us but to watch
the trains that climb to the horizons.

Each man is born here with his own life,
and loves it fiercely and pits it against the dead,
the stones, the churches. If his heart
bears the sorrow that consumes him
in actions, words, and faces one day
Italy will sing amid her people
of opened tombs, of evenings the color
of blood where hate is stronger than the eyes,
the mouth, the hands that shake the light.



Alfonso Gatto & Lisa Mullenneaux