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A Woman of Valour

Elisa Biagini

Reading from Southbank Centre's Poetry Parnassus festival, 2012. Reading in Italian.

Translated from the Italian by Diana Thow and Sarah Stickney:
from The Guest
I translate your life
through feng shui, recipes,
I glue your vocal cords back together
I tune the voice you had,
the tongue
that was written in your body
that was washed away with bleach, wind, dishwater
I can read it to you                    still
in those x-rays that you carry around
as your portfolio to the gallerists,
and in the dist at the bottom of the drawers
and in that one left inside gloves
in all these years of acid rain,
that has cleaned your bones like silverware.
Mended nerves
among fog, paperwork, jackets
the interlaced fingers
(veins and arteries crossed)
and after the tension on the phone-line, in the pen:
cakes are active mines at distance,
every noodle a knot, a new debt.
Your world struck between the lenses,
you, a building
crumbling in an instant.
Between us the voice
doesn’t travel like
a hairdryer underwater
but it stops like
a switch
turned on or off
at random. We two
are a country
under embargo,
living on parentheses and
silences, on blackouts,
so that when the light
returns, we have already
forgotten what to say to each other.
You show me your wounds, like a soldier,
your battle
against another you consuming
your eyes, bones
who cut your tendons a while ago,
the cord that holds you,
diver who won’t resurface.
With all that
inside you – would
calamity – you
attract me with fillings,
I slip toward you, with
your marsupial weight
of pills, the
canned wrongs
undergone, to suck on
in winter for memory:
your lips shining with
that axe that exists
your mouth.


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