Desert flower, flowers from the garland of our houses where families bicker in the open air, you browse on the stones of the day, simple, while field and sky like sky and sea appear all around. Rustic desert flower, no evening streaming with lights. No shepherds drenched by dew, slender fire of the hedges. No marsh-marigold, bilberry, swamp-violet or Florentine iris, or gentian, no angelica, no Parnassian grass or marsh-myrtle. You’re Pieruti, Zuan and tall Bepi with his walking-sticks of bone, slim at the helm of his wagon, pasture flower. You become hay. Burn, burn, sun of my town, little desert flower. The years pass over you, and so do I, with the shadow of the acacia tree, with the sunflower, on this quiet day.
from Poem in the Shape of a Rose
June 10, 1962
. . . Take a few steps and you’re on the Appia
or Tuscolana, where all is life
for all. But to be this life’s
accomplice, better to know
no style or history. Its meanings
deal in apathy and violence
in sordid peace. Under a sun
whose meaning is also unfolding,
thousands and thousands of people,
buffoons of a modern age of fire,
cross paths, teeming dark
along the blinding sidewalks, against
housing projects stretching to the sky.
I am a force of the Past.
My love lies only in tradition.
I come from the ruins, the churches,
the altarpieces, the villages
abandoned in the Apennines or foothills
of the Alps where my brothers once lived.
I wander like a madman down the Tuscolana,
down the Appia like a dog without a master.
Or I see the twilights, the mornings
over Rome, the Ciociaria, the world,
as the first acts of Posthistory
to which I bear witness, by arbitrary
birthright, from the outer edge
of some buried age. Monstrous is the man
born of a dead woman’s womb.
And I, a fetus now grown, roam about
more modern than any modern man,
in search of brothers no longer alive.