In a filmy stench of slaughterhouse
I see the image of my body, half-naked,
ignored, almost dead. This is the way,
since childhood — already then my love’s
automaton—I’ve wanted to be crucified,
with a flash of tender horror.
But behind this mist of marrow
(how many years or centuries fixed here?),
o Individual, o Second Self,
you find you’re made of me, my heat,
and hostile to a death anterior to mine.
I come to you from an intoxicating voyage.
I touched, in light-struck days,
the blackened walls and dew-damp grasses
of Casarsa, offered, with a warrior’s
casual grace, my naked body to the Po’s,
the Meschio’s, the Livenza’s fresh,
most ancient, languid time, played
on the verge of a reaching plain,
on burning meadows, under endless skies,
in houses basking in the rainbow-womb
of a thousand aromas, tender, rarified.
And I come into your circle, bitter,
fresh as my mother at evening, crossing
the threshold, jeweled in dry grasses,
and I bring with me a wind of countrysides,
a stately nimbleness, a stranger’s candid
courage. And you exude only silence.
O, complete unknown that you once were,
the boy lost in the house, the young bourgeois
who nourished the loved heart’s spurious
loves, now you’re nothing,
THE NOTHING, pure error.
This is how, o famished, o obscure desire,
with a look out of pre-human ages,
you express your maniac life.
The world’s life is your mania.
From me you only want what corresponds
to your mad toil at self-annihilation.
You ignore my century’s every attraction,
every holiday, every passion learned
in the years of a self-inspired life.
You refuse to see that eternity, in time,
offers itself in nearly eternal feasts.
But you ignore as well even more essential games:
confessing the male’s desires,
the love for my mother, whom YOU loved,
light that stagnates deep in childhood’s
night. . . . (O final candor of this,
my self-exposure. And you don’t know it.)
I loved only whom you hated.
I immortalized my young man’s shadow
so that, avid, I might mourn its
hope-replete affections, its lily’s ardors
that inflamed my filial flesh.
For you, in a desert of serenity,
I dishonor the poor secret of my sex,
and, unheedingly, confess it.
I don’t know by what calm and ultimately
honest miracle —out of my neuroses
I evoke pure skies, odorless places
in which. Matter of Death, you die.
Yes, often you’ve died, and the boy
returns happy to the womb, and the eager
mythomaniac to the gentlest form,
though nothing is left but his life.
But you, in the depths of time, await me,
here inside, where a languid stench
of moss or excrement infects muscles
and stomach; and, while the naked black
of a stairwell or a nomads’ bivouac thickens,
I see you, mummy, automaton, and you see me.
O mortal nostalgia for one who did not
know you and who, o pure Living One,
not knowing your orangutang’s anxieties,
vanished with his happy fate,
unknown heart in an unknown world.
— translated from the Italian
by Dino Fabris