meditations on language

de filosofia no sé;
del amor tampoco o menos;
pero me pones pensar tu
si es posible mancar
lo que aún no haya tenido.

*

*

this morning the light comes
through glass as if it were

autumn, but there is no poem
in it. in english,

one can say only i miss you,
but that doesn’t cover

by half the september sun
he says i need.

in italian, mi manchi,
you are lacking to me;

a lesson in grapeskins
and empty palms.

in spanish the thing,
like autumn morning light,

gets nearer: me haces falta,
te echo de menos,

te extraño: you make me lack;
you make me less;

i miss you. like a third hand
to turn the door knob

when my arms are wrapped
around your waist.

lunera

the young moon is
strung up
above the river looking
like a pale imitation
of herself,
a soul-thief who
gypsy dances
her way though mid-
winter madrugadas seducing
me to desperation
with silken slipknots
hung
between each
shadowed star.

You can find the original version in Spanish here. I’ve kept a few words that just didn’t give the same feel in English: madrugadas are early mornings— think partying-all-night-till-three-or-four-a.m. early. Lunera itself comes from “moon,” but, well… two WordReference sites, a handful of language forums, Google translator and a Guatemalan boyfriend all failed me in finding a direct translation. (Thanks anyway, Omar. ;)) The sense of it, though, for me, is making the moon “personal,” i.e. addressing it more as a person  and less as a far distant chunk of rock. And it definitely has something to do with a lullaby.  ~jsl

Palermo

Old, old loves
graffitied intricately into the decaying curves of stone-
struck corners describe the contours of a city
in heat, air-brushed by the Sirocco
and a whiff of drying citrus.
One has the feeling even an Augustine, in such a cauldron,
would never have found the need to confess.
Lost happily in streets
of summered serpentine,
strangers sense
this place has secrets, its
smell of dark underground desires, swaying
palm-scented footsore desires, whole
honeyed catacombs of desires: a
turbulent jewel
of something-more-than-not-quite-Italy
chained
to a rusted future by nothing less than history, yet
etched so firmly into the imagination
that even a Virginia girl
on a snowy winter’s night
remembers with longing
the smoky staccato of her pulse.

 

 

grazie a Estrella Azul ed al suo post, Sleeping Beauty of Palermo, per l’ispirazione di questa poesia e per ricordarmi quanto mi ha mancato la incomparabile Sicilia  —jsl