Now It's Dark

Anna Maria Carpi

Translated by: Lisa Mullenneaux

Original text: " Ora fa buio "


Artwork by Takao Tanabe

Now it's dark and it will be dark awhile

and the journey long, time

to contemplate those

who know nothing about me nor I them

and we have nothing to fear:

people are good out of their element.

There’s one working at his computer, one who telephones,

there’s one reading a newspaper

and one who lays his neck on the headrest

and sleeps open-mouthed—why every so often

does he jerk awake and feel a need

to recompose himself, to reclaim his chin?

A spasm, his self-image?

No one is ever what he wants to be.

Then his chin falls again:

Fine, I may be ugly, but so are you,

who is beautiful here?

 

Intermediate stops: abolish them.

Why does he get up, why does he want to get off

that man who has sat in front of me since Freiburg?

And why does she leave,

the friendly woman there in front

for dead Lucerne or Bellinzona

and vanish into the unreal,

into the world’s night?

Children, husband, work, a conference?

Will she find them? She believes so.

No one finds anything at the final stop,

sometimes a warm bed, and that’s fine,

but it’s as white as the robes of ghosts.

 

Don’t leave. We were companions.

Why did you arrive?

Only a journey shared is endless.

Anna Maria Carpi

A lifelong Milanese, Anna Maria Carpi has won awards for her translations of German 20th century poets—such as Benn, Celan, and Enzensberger—and also for her own poetry, which she began publishing in 1993. In 2016, Marcos y Marcos published her collected poems as E io che intanto parlo. Besides poetry, she has written essays, stories, and four novels, described at annamariacarpi.org.

Lisa Mullenneaux

Lisa Mullenneaux (translator) is the author of Naples’ Little Women: The Fiction of Elena Ferrante. Her poetry appears widely in print and online journals. She teaches writing for the University of Maryland UC.