Poemetto in G-minor

Pamela Proietti

If you must be stronger than yourself when you write,
If you must be stronger than what you write,
then you should realize how it is not
the force: the center, the fire, the fork; then
you should regard that way
as a road with no opposite direction
in one voice or another
you follow it, without remedy.



On this train I think of you like a man without whereabouts,
the omen that I ignore and suffer. Being lost
isn’t voluntary, it just naturally follows
when I wake up and everything still has to happen
you write me
something we both yearn for and have
already lived through.


Tonight the moon strips the olive trees bare
a kiss to a thousand cuts inflicted—
where we must go to heal.

I would like to quarry your enigmatic smile
to see
the root of the joy you secret away.


Fever 35 degrees
my delirium wants me here and pitched to the world, love me.
To know something is to fight from inside,
a clean movement that leaves nowhere to go
if I stay out. To block my skyward escape
I need your hands.


The man said: You seem like you’re afraid of the visible edge of things.
I’m frightened, the woman answered, as if something had hit me.
For perfection? he asked.
No, she said, for its crimes. 

We exorcise death in the house-water lily’s bed
You tell me the house mouse can’t kill itself
I love you for the first time in a wrong life.


November, one year later.
The sky is not whiter than this sheet,
it’s just held snow, the ice
you steal from my slender veins.
If I try to run away, I lose myself.


Christmas is the next absence we’ll have to live
/ Stephansplatz, a memory, or maybe Schiele
the Mozartkugel. I’ve been dreaming
your tongue into the shape of language:
this silence stronger than what never stops
possessing us.


The sonatina by Diabelli is an endless winter
we touch across a great distance / we are
the bedraggled skies in a painting by Van Gogh.
I’m looking for a tender gesture, like a wild dog
you refuse your death a living. O love
if it were not for certain transparencies,
maybe I would have stabbed your heart.


Find the right time for writing?
I can’t write when
I’m down
I can’t write when
I’m up.
There is a wastage in being: it’s not before,
not after.
Time is a man’s idea:
I am a woman.

translated from the Italian by Stephen Eric Berry and María Rodríguez Santiago