Untitled

By GIAMPIERO NERI

 

My father’s bookcase was divided by nationalities of the authors. “The French ones,” my mother would say with some solemnity, indicating the most considerable sector, and perhaps the one most congenial to her. Then came the Russians, preferred by my father.

The bookcase, pride of the family, occupied a room in our apartment, on the second floor of the building on via Volta in Erba.

The books, of all kinds, were safe-kept in custom-made cabinets, as if they were incunabula.

I had access to them only sub judice.

On my own I had found the set of Fabre’s “Memories of an Entomologist,” the ten volumes of the Sonzogno edition, which was to become my most beloved reading of those years.

In chronological order the last to arrive had been an encyclopedic dictionary with numerous illustrations. One of these, in glossy paper, reproduced Canova’s famous marble group, “The Three Graces,” naked, wonderful.

That summer, for our vacation, we’d gone to a mountain village, not far away. My father joined us on Saturdays for the weekend.

It was a long summer, the summer of  ’40, the first of the war.

Near us a dance-band would play, with a violinist who wore a beret. People would dance.

I’d play bocce with my father. I partnered with him against other pairs of vacationers. My father was a great shot-bowler. Then the summer too ended.

The return home was rather surprising. I looked right away for the dictionary, which I found out of place. The page of the “Three Graces” seemed tampered with, altered by a thick shading, black, done in pencil, on the groin of one of the “Graces.”
Translated by Martha Cooley

 

In 2012, when Giampiero Neri’s latest poetry collection, Il professor Fumagalli e altre figure, was published, he received the Carducci Prize for lifetime achievement. 

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here]

Untitled

Related Posts

poetry feature image

January 2021 Poetry Feature: Bruce Bond

BRUCE BOND
I was just another creature crawling from the mausoleum, / and I thought, so this is it, the place in the final chapter / where I am judged for all my cruelties, blunders, failures of attention, / and I waited for the furies to take me, or some such host. / But it was just another morning.

Sky full of comets

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia

MARIANGELA GUALTIERI
And he soars / saved, outstretched / untouched by the gravity that pins us / down / we deserters of empty spaces and heights / shadows cast / into modest taverns for a bite. / Heads in capitals / of rust. / A lifetime annuity of darkness. / Only a cry can save us now.

poetry feature image

December 2020 Poetry Feature: Denise Duhamel and Jeffrey Harrison

DENISE DUHAMEL
Where was I / when I was 20? I’d already been accepted / as an exchange student, taking my first plane ride / to London where I’d catch a train / to Wales. On that first flight, I sat next to a woman / in a shawl—how old was she? It’s hard to say.