to Mario Luzi
The old old poet climbs onto the stage
and the leopard’s back tenses in the dark.
I, the listener, do not know
whether I shall hunt or be devoured – my eyes on the old
old man around whom time is drafting a circle
that even the yellow Muse, with her ankle decked
in bells, does not cross only stretches a finger
to draw back the heavy curtain covering half
his face. From behind, death (I think) transparently
approaches bearing on its back sheaves of gold –
to feed the old old poet cold
and shiny bread.
The leopard folds back his paws. His talons etch in my face
lines white with astonishment. The beast leaps
and throws off a burning star to quiver in my lap
death and the poet smile and the great beast
lets go, lets me alone.
In the dark I embrace myself among the animals
that were placed in the water and the grass before
they were given names.
The old old poet death and the leopard take
the fire and vanish in the light.
How shall we stay alive? Behind the passion fear behind
the despair love –
for a white and throbbing moment I was the baby
of the elements. And I wept first.
Translated by: Vivian Eden