Four poems by Franca Mancinelli
one can play dead: arms spread,
the backbone for a keel, nothing
in the mind, motion
like a memory of water.
the day’s come, the wind
won’t rise. Running
between beacons and beatings—at the dock
a few meters of sheet-metal boat.
They shouted great
is God, we left
shoulder to shoulder, silent
—over our every breath
the engine starts to break into tears.
everyone in the hold, pressing
for another life the air
missing like a mother.
—Arms and legs wrestling
won’t empty the sea.
A shut coffin, the boat sinks.
adrift, within the constant swell—
even the seagulls
fly over them without squawking.
In this way after an accident
they remain intact fruit on the asphalt.
il morto si può fare: braccia aperte
per chiglia la colonna, niente
nella mente, un moto
come un ricordo d’acqua.
è il giorno, il vento
non si alzerà. Correre
tra fari e bastoni –al molo
pochi metri di lamiera una barca.
Hanno gridato è grande
Dio, siamo partiti
a spalle unite, muti
–su ogni nostro respiro
il motore inizia a rompersi in pianto.
tutti nella stiva premendo
per un’altra vita l’aria
come una madre manca.
Lotta di gambe e di braccia
–non svuoteranno il mare.
Richiusa in bara la barca discende.
alla deriva, nel moto continuo
anche i gabbiani
passano su di loro senza grida.
Così dopo un incidente
restano sull’asfalto frutti intatti.
translated from the Italian by John Taylor
Franca Mancinelli was born in Fano, Italy, in 1981. Her first two collections of verse poetry, Mala kruna (2007) and Pasta madre (2013), were awarded several prizes in Italy and later published together, in John Taylor’s translation, as At an Hour’s Sleep from Here (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2019). Her collection of prose poems, Libretto di transito, is likewise available in Taylor’s translation as The Little Book of Passage (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2018). She has participated in international projects such as the Chair Poet in Residence (Kolkata, India) and Refest: Images and Words on Refugee Routes. From this latter experience was born her Taccuino croato (Croatian Notebook), now published in Come tradurre la neve (How to Translate the Snow, 2019). Her writing has been translated into several other foreign languages and published in journals and anthologies. Her website: francamancinelli.com
Franca Mancinelli photo is by Chiara De Luca.