Four Poems by Franca Mancinelli, translated by John Taylor

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.

Franca Mancinelli
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.

About the contributor

John Taylor was born in Des Moines in 1952. He has lived in France since 1977. Among his many translations of French, Italian, and Modern Greek literature are books by Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Dupin, José-Flore Tappy, Pierre Voélin, Pierre Chappuis, Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Catherine Colomb, Lorenzo Calogero, Alfredo de Palchi, Elias Petropoulos, and Elias Papadimitrakopoulos. He is the author of several volumes of short prose and poetry, most recently The Dark Brightness (Xenos Books), Grassy Stairways (The MadHat Press), Remembrance of Water & Twenty-Five Trees (The Bitter Oleander Press) and a “double book” co-authored with the Swiss poet Pierre Chappuis, A Notebook of Clouds & A Notebook of Ridges (The Fortnightly Review). His website: johntaylor-author.com

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