THE COUNTRY BRIDE

Anna Santoliquido

Anna Santoliquido

I
I thought the firmament shed its leaves
instead it threw flames
soul on the anvil
horses at full tilt
II
she crushed salt in the mortar
watered the rose garden
patched up her life
thinking of her man in New York
III
who knows how he spent his nights!
were his women white or black?
sulking and desire
washed away by the river
IV
the ship was brimming with peasants
sad days on the ocean
hope clenched between teeth
guilt under their fingernails
V
how to reconcile feelings
with water?
they’d had to rip themselves from the land
to reach the new world
VI
the child in the womb
challenged destiny
she sang songs
that drifted through the woods
VII
the sheets were candid
on the dry grass
themareimpatient
under the elm tree
VIII
his letters bore witness to tenderness
full-blooded sentences
she kept his hand organ in the chest
the candle above the hearth
IX
at dusk she gazed afar
he would not return from the vineyard
maybe he was down the docks chatting
sniffing tobacco
X
“America is far away
and I am not crossing the water”
she used to say to herself
the country bride with her bodice and knife
XI
at night she yearned
kissed the children
said her rosary
tossed a shoe at the cricket
XII
year after year the dollars arrived
then the thread was broken
the sickle severed bride from groom
and silence reigned
(Translated by Janet Mary Wing)
from CITTÀ FUCILATA