Mrs Prufrock used to sing



She saw the bottom where the water was sweet,
surrendered her body to the waves she feared
as a gift, and dreamed the dreams
she had kept to give as presents
wrapped with indecision
(and you used to leave the box unopened
claimed to know her breathless days
claimed a life undeserved,
unwanted, a caper.)

Writing distils pain
in secret caves: Sybil where are you?
The room is not solitary enough
or sunny.
Writing invents the sense, calming
every question. Silence is what is missing,
screaming inside the wall
Where are you.
Trickle a word sufficient to silence
and mutate a day without a god.
In an instant the present descends.

And the days spent with housework?
Who can give back her longhair
and a car journey at the beginning of summer?
She used to sing in her heart
and on the seat of the merry-go-round
where different women opened their hands
to say goodbye.
She used to sing with her heart
hung by a thread
on the train in time’s quarters,
in withered gardens,
by house lights
where everyday comedy
is played without an audience.

All has been asked and taken
all has happened and come back.
A made up destiny,
a banner of a thirsty life.
Now the boat is in the harbour
in frozen water.

There are travel companions
in coaches with curtains,
we wait for a turn of events.
Lost opportunities, from the windows
hand out a flower before leaving,
an abyss of memory opens,
cloudbursts within a second,
pieces of revelation when it’s getting late
break through the sluice.
The border is a ridge
a flooded wadi, a hairpin turn.

Reading from the same book
they were leaning to the bed head
when she thought there would have been time
to ditch decisions
and forget revisions.
On the page a story unfolds.

What’s left? The final credits
to tell the tellable
dismiss the dareable
and ghosts still to be killed.

While choosing the chain -
a drop of ice -
she knew that she loved winter.


This poems with its translation into English by the same author was published in the collection Ondulazioni, co-authored with the British poet John Irving Clarke, who contributed to the translation.

Photos: Bruna Bonino.