Cavalli: Two Poems : Magazine : A Public Space

Two Poems

Poetry Patrizia Cavalli
Translated from the Italian by Rosanna Warren and Jorie Graham


Something that the object never can take in,
an empty bucket that won’t carry me.
I held the silent months in a wide weave
which was supposed to flash forth in full voice.
I tried to speak and it unraveled on my tongue.
It’s neither net nor coat, it’s only a screen;
I capture nothing and it won’t cover me
but separates one silence from the silence.
That other labyrinthine and interior sound
practiced alone as I walk along the street
or waking up, did not emerge,
held off from me.


Again it has prepared itself for my awakening
the intransigent horizon its landscape its hills
empty of images empty of thought
except for the unending gloom into which
the accountants put forth their modest spreadsheets.
And at the edge of my sleep always the sentinels.
Always at that hour coming to find me.
They set the alarm they set the awakening.
And yes immediately they add up the years, the terrors, the losses, the gains,
in their hands time the ribbon consumes itself
subtracting adding how is it that life
got lost or left behind, and where down that road?

In broad daylight on the other hand I shall mistake them,
I shall not compete with them,
I shall act like it’s nothing, absolutely nothing, and gag them
and cover them with rags and exhaust them
showing myself to be ever more uncouth and vain.
They too shall die. Yes. Let them die.
Scoundrels, rogues—what do they know?
How would they ever know I am the error?
No. 19

No. 19


Patrizia Cavalli has published six books of poems as well as translations of Shakespeare and Molière. My Poems Will Not Change the World, a selection of her poems published between 1974 and 2006 and translated by American poets including Jonathan Galassi, Jorie Graham, Kenneth Koch, Mark Strand, and Rosanna Warren, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux this fall. She was made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2003. She lives in Rome.


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