Wednesday, September 23, 2009

816. Memorandum Book - Primo Levi

Translated from the Italian by Ruth Feldman and Brian Swann
    In such a night as this,
Of north wind and rain mixed with snow,
There is someone who drowses in front of a TV,
Someone who resolves to rob a bank.
In such a night as this,
Distant as it takes light to travel in five days,
There is a comet that plummets onto us
From the black womb without height or depth.
The same one Giotto painted,
It will bring neither luck nor disasters,
But ancient ice and a reply, perhaps.
In such a night as this
There is a half-mad old man,
Fine metalworker in his day,
But his day was not our day,
And now he sleeps at Ports Nuova, drinks.
In such a night as this
Someone stretches out next to a woman
And feels he no longer has weight.
It's today that counts and not tomorrow,
And the flow of time pauses briefly.
In such a night as this
Witches used to choose hemlock and hellebore
To pick by the light of the moon
And cook in their kitchens.
In such a night as this
There's a transvestite on Corso Matteotti
Who would give a kidney and a lung
To grow hollow and become a woman.
In such a night as this
There are seven young men in white lab coats,
Four of them smoking pipes.
They are designing a very long channel
In which to unite a bundle of protons
Almost as swift as light.
If they succeed, the world will blow up.
In such a night as this
A poet strains his bow, searching for a word
That can contain the typhoon's force,
The secrets of blood and seed.