Surely it’s ridiculous maybe even scandalous
that I feel such overpowering envy
for the eleven-year-old son who’s dozing
fallen into his mother’s arms
to enjoy his turn of pleasure
however unaware and heedless.
At my age how could I compete
with that fine hair, that brow
which pulls back all the better to surrender
to the sure power of those hands
that close him in their caresses,
not lustful caresses but undisputed
sovereignty of simple tenderness,
the true sure gesture that possesses?
There’s no cure for my envy:
what do I want, to give or to receive?
To be what I am, yet not a female daughter
but a feminine son, an absolute son,
an undifferentiated son. Mother of mine,
what went wrong, why didn’t you convince me?
—Translated from the Italian by Jonathan Galassi