In the dark I inflate balloons
———————————for my children
it’s nighttime in the house

——————————-I lose my breath, they grow
their aerial games,
———————-the threads on which they become acrobats
their water shins
luminescent hair

———————-their laughter issues forth
or holds off, paper decorations
on the walls, and
the colors, loose folds on their wrists, I lose
some air, my chest falls
I’m a bird again

night is a mouth opened
over empty stadiums
————————-a girl
still among the other girls who dance—

I let go of the balloons, let go
of my children in the dark where the wings
of monstrous things touch them—

I name them after old saints: Bartolomeo
Carlotta, Battista, Clemente…
gather into your years
my ever waning ones, breath
that only God can provide.

Be lively
———-and stay in my eyes
that in a smile switch off
before the rooms that
open up to a thousand moons.


Translated from the Italian by Gregory M. Pell

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Access one piece of artwork every month for free! To experience the full archive, log in or subscribe.

Related Poetry

Question for My Father


William Wenthe

Notre Dame


Fleda Brown

image of a wall lit up red and gold by a metal lamp with glass panes. the rest of the image is in darkness.

Rugby Wheels


Les Murray

The Years Were Patient with Me


Jeanne Murray Walker

Pin It on Pinterest