Three Poems by Pamela Proietti Translated from the Italian

Translated by Stephen Eric Berry and Donna Mancusi-Ungaro Hart


Thirty-two Hours
The first day
is a memory unlived. A series,
confused slides in an archive.
Thirty-two hours, small
ants under the skin jump to our eyes —
submission is the ecstasy of the body, naked.
The second day
a fisherman gives you the Saint
captured in the early morning, he says
to cook it well
you have to stick in the whole story —
I think of your hands
that hold the knife.
The third day is composition
like a night unborn
or the sea locked in the window
shattering high
on the cliff.


Four Days

Shirley has been in Italy since 1951,
she says they use her voice for little girls
and for blonde women. How do you say:
dreamy, ditzy, dummy? She has
an 83-year-old little girl coming
out of her mouth. Each day
someone loves her.

We broke down 
on the road that hugs the sea,
for a sick government cures us
with a jack and some blows from a hammer.

The dog will return to the house that is no more
he knows nothing, he / I
would like to dream all of each other’s dreams.

The next day, the pools are imaginary,
heavy blue under wooden beams.
We could play like those fish in the aquariums,
instead we hold kisses in our throats —
we are mute, but without scales.


That Which Remains
We are that which remains
the history of thunderstorms
a path of wet stones, puddles
where steps shape themselves
in search of stable roofs —
even the intention of a shelter we are
when the rain
is the nearby station, the resolute voices 
of trains always in competition. We
are that which remains after
even the cock
or maybe the sky.
If the wall of the house burns down
one must kidnap the flames — one
life doesn’t say to love impossibly
it’s the infinitive always added
to infinite subtractions.


About the Author

Pamela Proietti‘s work has appeared in several periodicals, including Asymptote Journal, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, La nuova carne poetica, Vol.1 – della femmina intelligenzaIl mare è poesia, and online on Lieto Colle and Grazia magazines. Her work has also been published in the book Gramigna by Beatrice Niccolai. She has served as an editorial director at Metropolis Zero magazine where she oversaw the “Letters to the Director” section and wrote for the “Mind the Gap” page. Ms. Proietti collaborates with NiedernGasse magazine and the cultural association “House of Ink.” She lives in Rome, Italy.
About the Translators

 Stephen Eric Berry is a writer, filmmaker, composer, and a recipient of the Jule and Avery Hopwood Award at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, Tampa Review, World Literature Today, Water-Stone Review, The Mailer Review, and elsewhere. In 2017, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to be a visiting scholar at Amherst College. He lives in Chelsea, Michigan.
Donna Mancusi-Ungaro Hart is a graduate of Vassar College and received her Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures from Harvard University. Her field of interest is Italian Studies, specifically Dante and Italian cinema. She was awarded the Dante Prize from the Dante Society of America for her publication of Dante and the Empire (American University Studies, 1987). She taught Italian at Rutgers University for several years before managing public relations for a number of European companies in the United States. Since 2005, she has been an instructor and translator of Italian for the University of Michigan. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Antigone in the City” by John Elkerr
18″ x 24″
Colored ink on paper

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