Poetry by Viviana Fiorentino

Belonging

I – BETWEEN

Lines of smoking chimneys, distances go silent.

An empty sky doesn’t move, it crushes the movements below.
Thinking of us, walking side by side
on the main avenue, in the city where I was born.
A spring of years ago, under tall sycamores.
My shoulder close to your shoulder, our feet on different countries
as it is also for our memories.

You emerged at night, from centuries of difficult sleep.
I came to the edge of your bed, the pillow forming a frame around your head,
the uncombed hair impressed on the linen like an ink sketch
both knees on the ground, I begged you.
Denying a story is like a light going off.

A door opened on our dark house, the old house with no smell of coffee.
The dining room still, dissolving every street outside.
You left with a grief, I know, hating me caring for you.
You told me, you stood by the door
listening to the silence, growing backwards
staring at the place where we left unused objects down at the tidal time,
recovered, tainted, dusty.

You stepped back, moonlight drawing you from darkness.

I don’t know, what is not and what has been
where I come from, edges by edges
when I arrive at the borders between me and you.

What’s the name of this bizarre country
the strange avenue of belonging?

II – A PHOTO

An old picture
with you mother
and a red bicycle

You bent towards me
whispering in my ear

I didn’t like smiling in photos,
yet I was smiling to you.

My chin in your palm
holding delicate the weight of bodies.

My straw hat
tall trees and anemones
our old garden.

Words I don’t know anymore.

Love bent you
it folded even time
into an origami flower.

Collapsed in a blind corner of the photo
words lay preserved
whispered
scrumped
from the ruins of time.

We smiled most mornings.

The camera didn’t know it.

Road lines

 

You, mother, driving, me at your side -, we talk as I watch
edges

aligning with the road. Fragments of landscape in dots of trees and shrubs. You speak
softly

of ending and loss. I turn to the other window, rain falling in the other direction,
out

where the wind tilts things with no attention. To you mother, who
I love,

I talk of bags I forgot, and the books I haven’t read. Yet rain falls
faster

in lines slanting the world underneath. Coincidences have weight. I wanted to
tell you

– while you talk of deities’ pity for us, your fate, my chance, our possibilities –

but you want to pay for those parcels I forgot. You won’t turn into
slip roads

we could take. And while you point
where air scatters

more light, for the sky kindness or the sun obstinacy,
edges

align between us. Love for you. The weight of your

heart
before I feel it.

Impossible crossroads where you and I are mother.

About the contributor

Viviana Fiorentino is Italian and lives in Belfast. She published in international webzines, journals, in anthology (Dedalus Press, 2019); a poetry collection (Controluna Press) and a novel (Transeuropa Publishing House). She co-founded two activist poetry initiatives (‘Sky, you are too big’, ‘Letters with wings’) and Le Ortique (forgotten women artists blog).

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