See, we have lived more than one life,
now we have to weigh each thing
on the scales of dreams and unleash
memories that devour what the present was.
I So many new words have been learnt complicated words clustered beyond the door, lying in ambush. And ambush has its own gaze: it threatens, usurps, above all it persists not knowing silence. The din of data, the ups and downs, thresholds the Excel spreadsheets, exact data sensations, suspensions bodies named as the count progresses. Where is the count at?
II Cities closed and opened and closed again untouchable, uncharted despite the well-known geographies. Shutters locked, our affections locked down easy extremes, it might seem but separation is mandatory, everything explained time and again: it’s for our safety. That silence when everything was stopped: repository of dark memories and schemes an inured, primal silence. A vigil a mineral space that has the breath of asphalt a space stretching out into absence. Rare breeds of bird are back. Some rivers are now teeming. Animals from the forest are crossing roads. This is what happens when man is not around. Would you ever have believed it?
III The parting forms new tribes: the careless, the unaware, the healthy, the sly those who take care of the agony of others… If you’re still scared when you wake up take my hand again. Do your fingers still remember me?
IV The solitude of small towns, of trade the debt, the vacant spaces. And then exhausts, openings scant deltas perhaps those hints at some sort of recovery good enough to give the illusion all’s well again. No vespertine rejoicings rather, grim gestures as we sail close-hauled Each carries the weight of the eyes, of what has been seen before. Groping in the void, one life next to one life, next to one life. And each remains too far asleep and vulnerable, innocent even and cruelty looks like a misunderstanding. Each was born outside this season as we repeat, failing to see its end. Does my fear somehow resemble yours?
V Careless, the night baptizes some offering an imprint to their foreheads and they’re the disappeared. Others are waiting, others denying, others pretending that nothing ever happens. Others despair, others look for love ties, find them anew. Who is the one you’d want to call by name, feel close to you?
VI Walls are shifting light is locked out or scant a compendium to silence, to all the waiting that holds volition in abeyance. Night: an aisle, and it’s a vast one. Waiting for the passing. And at each passing scales fall like rain onto the veil: the wail of too many ambulance sirens in the streets. So the presence of others is suddenly born and each presence is a periphery a destiny and a soul a head crammed with regrets heart filled with desires. The unfinished part. Today at least, have you reached out in kindness?
VII Opening up, locking down the gun fire of new data and toponyms sluggish with quarantines. Newfangled yokes, gravity nailing us down here. It could be worse. I’m holding out. And you?
VIII We disappear, far from those who remember us, more and more. We need new measures, perhaps a brand new start. So shut the shops, except for the essentials personal services, the post, banks and hairdressers pharmacies, maintenance and gardening petrol stations and cattle markets. Everything else will stay shut except for florists’. A choice no one has explained nor did anyone want to know it could be surmised, but not said. Is it so inhuman to not want to see?
IX To spite the contraries and with no special occasion —so as not to resemble the eternal penumbra— a freesia, a rose, the aster or zinnia in the living room, to nourish my gaze to feel close to normality. When we go back to the ground of steps we’ll look at the pavement grasses sprouting from kerbs or around manholes or pushing up from under grates, stubbornly reaching for the sky, loading colour, welcoming the warmth. Or the roots digging, wild vengeful veins or jagged spores, frowned-upon blossomings free and contrary and renewed even though surrounded by the land of errors. Everything will be all right—it will. When we can may I invite you to come with me?
X The gap between beauty and unbalance: there is no forecast for this or for the weariness, the dryness of gestures in the impossibility of doing otherwise but believe me: no one accustoms to being apart and that’s why we’ve trained our gaze. To see further beyond. And there’s so much that’s worth the effort despite the attrition... We need distance I know: now everything’s so exceedingly close and some repeat there’s nothing but ruins debris and ruins. But look closer: what do you see?
XI To say ruins is to say loss, or grief. Much as they embody terror they are no promise: they’ve happened already. They’re the footprint of a fracture. But aren’t they also the exorcism against fear?
XII No, we won’t be just bodies riddled with absence but a range of miracles. Feel how long the world endures inside you. And tell me: where shall we begin?
Fabiano Alborghetti has written critical essays, founded some reviews, created radio programmes and projects for prisons, schools and hopitals and worked as a cultural promoter. He is a board member of the Babel and Chiassoletteraria festivals and the president of the Casa della Letteratura per la Svizzera Italiana. He represents the Italian language and Switzerland on worldwide official assignments.
Translated into more than 10 languages, his poems have been published in books, reviews and anthologies. He has published 6 collections, including Maiser, awarded the Premio Svizzero di Letteratura in 2018. www.fabianoalborghetti.ch
Translated by Cristina Viti