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Two Poems

[Stopping suddenly, no destination]

Stopping suddenly, no destination
at the top of stairs
that no longer led me anywhere
I held the banister
and raised my eyes. Ah what was
the oval fervor of that portal,
shut and absorbed in its condition?
Like a foreigner I gaped at it
my look now given to prayer
the rest of my body slack
rising like spirit to my mouth.
To conserve the strength of my idea
I sat down on the stairs
and said aloud: "It's strange, it's strange.
And I'm not leaving here until
I understand. It's strange, so strange."
But I got lost more violently
in a white languor with no history
a memory before all other memory
like an original melange
in which cells could wander
that still had not agglomerated
into the human present that we are. And finally
empty of thought I nearly gave in
fully to this broad nostalgia
that took me far away with it
and deprived me of my own chronology.
But my heart's vile laziness
that's only capable of superstition
soon encased that impetus in a name
and the spacious, nameless heat
took the form and cold
of its last shut refuge.
And I found myself in the dark of love.

                              translated by Jonathan Galassi

       (Text of the poem in the original Italian)

[Throw in the pasta, I'm on my way!]

Throw in the pasta, I'm on my way!
O bliss, I'll be fed.
But the water doesn't boil, not yet.
For someone to be there bringing
water to a boil and to get there on time
before the pasta overcooks
or God forbid grows cold,
in that exact always slightly hysterical
moment, yes, in that almost sacred
very moment of straining,
that happy haste sooner or later,
will come to all, even the unluckiest.

                              translated by Gini Alhadeff

       (Text of the poem in the original Italian)

Patrizia Cavalli

My Poems Won't Change the World: Selected Poems
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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