p o e m s

r o s i t a  c o p i o l i 

Morning mother, from the doors
of the tamarisks, born from the tissue
of the threshold stone,
ancient mother, now remote, you appear to me
from the dawn window of an early
that runs along the sea, before the sun’s
awakening, the first gray edge of the water
is only just rising, not yet
light, and I remember how in the past
you watched over my sleep, you came in
to look at me. I could feel from the mirror
a light, you had fingers of almond
and carmine and now inside the highest darkness
in which you dwell, perhaps you disclose other doors,
you are keeper of ports, changed to aegis
like the first watch with rapacious
eyes. Your feet quiver
on the starry sea.

Morning mother, from these algid
pools that flash past, where the lost
land seems to bestow stars on us,
do you remember, do you still whisper,
and hold me by your side
and push my foot,

You entered so softly, concealer
of sorrows, mother of
caresses, you brought me
coffee and clothes, opened
wide the light. Remote, remote,
May mother of shadows and roses,
sea-mother of beginnings,
do you still have my mouth
the same as yours? I thought of
the areola of the ultramarine bramble
because of your bitterness, I saw you
architrave of the gray flames,
mandorla of the ever-burning fire,
because of your support,
I felt you
shadow of the horizon
not yet tear-drop, because of your hope.
I loved you,
grinding stone of the gravid not yet
ground cliff, because of your heaviness.

But like a cloak of black sand
your face, which time has denigrated,
wraps my soul
in a skin of black dawn.
Time, time
did this, time took the gold away
and disguised us.

On a day like today, o my veil,
of breezy cool spring
against a background of earth and graves,
black smoldered in my bosom,
my heart jingled
like a jailed seagull.
I arched my eyebrows. By arches and by wings
I knocked my bill against the sun.
The troubled heart was a fist that even now
drives me away onto the pavements. I still see you
gaze at me, anxious.

And I leaned
over the salty lovesick summers.
In the blue swimming of the islands,
in the lonely cries of the boats, in the
slopes of the white-stubbed hills
bleached, briny, poor
in flights and sun-drenched winds,
stood the hungry summer, already stripped
of honey. And I would never
slip out of the sea, hedge’s wing
wavering on sleep, defender.
You seemed to open only dwellings
of lead and feathers, for me.

From that pearly and purple shore
where your word echoes,
wondrous plant
not yet reborn from memory’s
bitter wave,
from that mouth in whose mirror
I speak to myself with burning eyes, and yet don’t see myself in,
you return first wave of the tides’
robe, nocturnal dawn folded up
as the sea I lost
ebbs and flows,
from this defenestrated gaze.
Then, honored with tears and with song
of a most radiant April,
facing the pines and the tall glass windows, at four
in the morning, cheered by throaty
blackbirds’ whorls and by half-open flowers, like
roses, my throat too greeted
a clear, vermilion air.

Morning mother, at the hour bleached
like a cloud of bread, you changed
to wreath, you were a white canvas, you were
like Carna who gets ready and gives herself at the hour
of hissings and floods; and yet
from the Adriatic that stretches
like a table, from this oily deck
which breathes with the sense and the desire inside the heart,
my girdle, trimmed with tender impatience, slipped off
in the illusion that innermost love
makes tempting to the secluded
One became refined
on that white canvas. It was the
Elysian and still surface
of the soul’s liquid, Carna. And with no
pounding of waves, devoid of reefs, like
the Stygian owl that sinks its beak
into the entrails or plummets
on the half-asleep wren, you
killed me.

Morning mother, mother of the hearth,
wet-nurse of the Stygian marsh,
brave mother,
Nemesis too was inside you
flying on the high waters,
and she was drenched and dripped
the hyacinth egg
like a new sun
on the sea’s sidelong dawning
held back
by time.
But, on this shore, I see
the white beauty
of the dove, the
larger wing that first
brought it here, the live
snake uncoiling its emerald
from the sea and from the white plumes,
and I don’t know whether, like the
dragon of air or the serpent that slides out
of the algae-covered sand, the dove flies
towards the sun or sets
on earth, or wages war,
hopeless, in gentle death.
I, too, violent in the illusion of the world,
redouble the many revenges
against myself.
My dreams, lucid and amnia-heavy,
as if reflected from the porthole of a concave mirror,
yet so much like
the essence of a firefly wing,
I glide from the flagged littoral,
and dawn holds no hope.

Mother of death.
Haughty warrior, with no fortune
other than song, against what sun
does your heart
I am at the place now which suspends
only one frontier. The orange
and cinnabar hoofs of the awakening
are beating. Velvet and fuchsia-hued
nautilus shine in the wake of
the noctiluca. The world’s soul
and swells again.
The deepest wine
of the sea chalice

In the same way, the Orient of the calm sea
wavers in its tortured depths.
Echoes of hammers sparkle.
Bells pacify the tides. The white moon
melts again the blood the wrath the mud
in our veins.
Between surface and abyss
flashes an agony of flames,
an agony of dance,
an agony of might,
the dance of the phosphorus
which turns the globe into a huge yellow

Morning mother, mother of death.
Vain hope of our affliction, cold opal
and remote like the embittered moon.
Between life and death
how far is it, what is the distance,
that pulls and leads us on?

Dead woman, mother of death. Remote, remote,
October mother of the early mists,
sea-mother of endings,
isn’t your mouth the place
of my reversed time?
In how many atrocious garments I have imagined you!
And yet, when I consider how we’ve always stood
alone on this gulf as we stand at this moment,
and now alone the way you were,
the way I am, I see the warmth
of your eyes again, and a berry-pink amber
brushes your cheeks,
o thorny, thorny, o bramble-hard

Morning mother, I evoke
your lips of dead iris, the
unreal likeness that moves forth on the naked
waters, on nature still shivering
with the chill of the night.

Morning mother, mother of the dust
of the milk and of the silver,
you make the sun rise from the hollow
of the night of the waves,
look at me, here with you on the shore
of this boundless glass
where, following a ribbon of light,
I chase you.

italian original / next poem



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