when slow october changes color

umberto piersanti
translated by stephen sartarelli

it’s like the sweet must that wasps
cover thick and greedy in the soft october
mist as it drifts into the stables
the sun that here has darkened
the hawthorn berry’s pulp is now violet
over the cone of grasslands where ends
this most beautiful of the Cesana mountains
under the white thorn the naked breast
enjoys the tepid odors in the air
my blood is warm among the humors

I fell with dusk amid the brambles
we were on a footpath brimming with grass
where the chicory still grows blue
in heavy dew in a month not its own
shadows had fallen long across the fallow ground
rising high in the night and upturned
Grace sees the sign that has burdened her
ever since the years when she used to
tie her hair up in a ribbon
I nodded my head and only said
that at times around this hour I heard
a sound sweet and clear among the vaults

we used to thrash the walnut tree at night
the dark hulls opening as they fall
she says she doesn’t remember—certainly
she’s never dipped her long hands in its green—
the blows thundered in the grass
the shells were lost in the darkness
and only your smile went down to the banks

a bit later in the middle of the glade
along the grassy path running through it
the bushes lit up with a singing
first a faint trill then a thunder
bursting through the thicket in reply

October has striped in motley red
the still yellow arbutus berries
from the strawberry tree they fall with long stems
that the wind moves over the billows
I’ve hung one from your lips
and we kiss in its pulp

I had returned with my mother to the place
where virgin’s-bower even twists about the brambles
the thicket is my own and here I’ve looked
for mushrooms that stand thin amongst the hornbeams
when with grandmother we used to get up
at four to mist-covered grasslands
but she sees nothing any more from the whitewashed
house where she has gone to stay
she never used to miss a single walnut
in the grass or nest among the reeds
she’s well past ninety now
and almost all her vision’s gone

at Halloween in late October
I often went down to the Tower
the Cesana flows clear on the glass
the smoke-tree announcing our autumn
in all the thickets beyond the sainfoin
oozes bright red among the oaks
past my house lost beyond the slope
a long narrow road on the way down the hill
plunges deep with the gully below
in the air the sorb now smells almost
like its fruits inside my room

light falls softly on the mountains
only here and there is the sky still bright
at this hour a bit of fog always rises
when slow October changes color
and becomes November’s dark grey mists
Urbino in the valley has few lights
it passes into night and the storm
gathering afar beyond these hills
it’s this somber weather that surrounds it
and threatens us from the various spaces
a profile of grace is all that remains
the water of the gully smelling fresher

(mid-October 1983)

shelly shan

hi, my name is shelly. I do a thing where I make words into unnecessarily emotional composites. I don't know why I'm allowed on the internet, but I like it here.