A Desperate Vitality


(Draft, in cursus, through the use of current jargon, 
on a previous occurrence:  Fiumicino, the old castle, 
and a first insight into the reality of death.)

As in a film by Godard: alone
in a car moving along the highways
of Latin neo-capitalism - returning from the airport -
[that's where Moravia remained, pure among his luggage]
	alone, "at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo"
		beneath a sun so divine
		indescribable in non-elegiac rhyme
		- the most beautiful sun of the year -
as in a film by Godard:
	beneath that unique sun that steadily bled,
	the canal of Fiumicino's port
	- a motorboat returning un-noticed
	- Neapolitan sailors in their woolen rags
	- a highway accident with only a small crowd ...
- as in a film by Godard -
rediscovered romanticism contained
in cynical neo-capitalism, and cruelty -
at the wheel
on the road to Fiumicino,

and there is the castle (sweet
mystery, for the French screenwriter,
in the troubled, infinite, secular sun,

this papal beast, with its battlements,
on the hedges and vine rows of the ugly 
countryside of peasant serfs) ...

- I am like a cat burned alive,
run over by the wheels of a truck,
hung to a fig tree by boys,

but at least eight of
its nine lives intact;
like a snake reduced to bloody pulp,
a half-eaten eel

- sunken cheeks defining tired eyes,
hair horribly thinned out against the skull,
skinny arms, like those of a child
- Belmondo, a cat that never dies,
“at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo”
in the logic of narcissistic montage,
detaches himself from time, and inserts 

into images that have nothing to do with
the boredom of progressing hours ...
the slow dying glitter of evening ...

Death lies not
in being unable to communicate,
but in the failure to continue being understood.

And this papal beast, not lacking 
grace,  - the reminder
of rustic landlord concessions,
innocent, after all,
as was the serfs’ resignation -
in the sun that was,
in the centuries,
for thousands of afternoons,
here, the only guest,
this papal beast, with battlements
crouching amid marsh poplars,
melon fields, banks,

this papal beast protected
- by buttresses of the sweet orange colour
of Rome, ruined
like Roman or Etruscan buildings,

is at the point of no longer being understood.


(Sample englished by Pasquale Verdicchio)

Excerpt from


by Mary Bucci Bush

August, 1905

	After the week-long rain, it was too wet for working in the cotton fields, 
and there were too many snakes for clearing the swamp of stumps and branches.  
Isola's mother saw that look come onto her daughter's face.  
"Don't you go to the levee," she told her. "You stay here and fix the clothes with me."	
	The water came from everywhere.  The river swelled and, once, came within 
inches of the top of the levee, powerful and deep and dangerous.  Puddles formed 
in the woods, the bosc'  her family called it, big puddles like ponds, and fish swam
in the water, fish from nowhere.  The land itself turned into a patchwork of streams 
and ponds and puddles.  Even stepping on what looked like dry land became a risk:  
put your foot on a grassy spot and you might find yourself in water over your ankles.
	"Where do you think you're going?" her mother said.
	"Nowhere.  I got to pee."
	"You gotta work, that's what you gotta do."  She took the dress from her
daughter's hand and shook it out.  "Look at this," she said.  "What's gonna happen 
to you when you try to get a husband and he sees you do a mess like this with your sewing?"
	"Mamma," she pleaded.  "Maybe I'm not gonna get a husband."
	Her mother made a sound like she was spitting coffee grounds from her mouth.  
Then she crossed herself.  "I pray for you, dear God, what's gonna happen if you gotta be 
like this?"
	Isola rubbed her foot back and forth along the floor, scratching the ball of her foot
on a rough spot on the wood.  Oswaldo was out hunting frogs with their father for their supper.
 Angelina was outside in the sun stringing tomatoes to dry.  They had picked as many as they 
could before the rain came and ruined them.  Everyone else was outside doing something, 
and here she was stuck in the house with her mother's prayers and a needle and thread.
	Her mother stood and went for a candle and her statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 Isola groaned to herself as she watched.  Her mother placed the statue on the floor, 
then lit the candle in front of the statue.  She pointed to the floor.  "Get down there 
and pray before the devil takes you to go live with him for good," she said.  Isola got 
down on her knees next to her mother and they prayed:  Hail Mary, Our Father, Hail Holy Queen.  
Then they were quiet for a long time.  Isola watched the flame flicker in front of Mary's chipped 
blue robe.  Mary's face was like a little doll's face, and she looked like a girl, maybe a girl 
Isola's age, with an expression that made Isola think that Mary's mother must have yelled at her 
all the time, too.
	The Italians worked like animals, her father said, scrounging for a penny every minute 
of the day.  When they weren't working off their shares for Mr. Gracey they were hiring out to
 chop weeds for other farmers, or they were selling tomatoes or eggs house to house or patching 
people's clothes or washing them or fixing a wagon for them.  A penny here, a penny there, and 
it all got saved.  The black people didn't seem to be as crazy about working and making money 
as the Italians were, even though they got yelled at more for not working enough, and punished 
in other ways.  Most of the time Isola wished she was a black girl so she could play with Birdie 
more, or sing with her while they worked in the fields.  


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