Leonardo Sciascia

Due cartoline dal mio paese
1

Il paese del sale, il mio paese
che frana – sale e nebbia –
dall’altipiano a una valle di crete;
così povero che basta un venditore
d’abiti smessi – ridono appesi alle corde
i colori delle vesti femminili –
a far festa, o la tenda bianca
del venditore di torrone.
Il sale sulla piaga, queste pietre
bianche che s’ammucchiano
lungo i binari – il viaggiatore
alza gli occhi dal giornale, chiede
il nome del paese – e poi in lunghi convogli e
scendono alle navi di Porto Empedocle;
il sale della terra – “e se il sale
diventa insipido
come gli si renderà il sapore?”
(E se diventa morte,
pianto di donne nere nelle strade,
fame negli occhi dei bambini?).
2

Questo è il freddo che i vecchi
dicono s’infila dentro le corna del bue;
che svena il bronzo delle campane,
le fa opache nel suono come brocche di creta.
C’è la neve sui monti di Cammarata,
a salutare questa neve lontana
c’erano un tempo festose cantilene.
I bambini poveri si raccolgono silenziosi
sui gradini della scuola, aspettano
che la porta si apra: fitti e intirizziti
come passeri, addentano il pane nero,
mordono appena la sarda iridata
di sale e squame. Altri bambini
stanno un po’ in disparte, chiusi
nel bozzolo caldo delle sciarpe.

Leonardo Sciascia

Two postcards from my hometown
1

A town of salt, my town
that slips – salt and fog –
from the highlands to a valley of clay;
so poor that one used-clothes salesman
does suffice – laughing on clotheslines
are colourful women’s robes –
in celebration, or the white tarpaulin
of the torrone salesman.
Salt in the wound, these white
stones that collect
along railway lines – a traveller
raises his eyes from his newspaper, asks
the name of the town – and then in long convoys and
onto the ships in Porto Empedocle;
the salt of the earth – “and if the salt
becomes insipid
how can we give back the flavour?”
(And if it becomes death,
tears of black women on the streets,
hunger in the eyes of the children?).
2

This is the cold that the elders
say seeps into the horns of the ox;
that bleeds the bronze from the bells,
making them ring opaque like clay jugs.
There is snow on the hills of Cammarata,
to greet this distant snow
there were once festive chants.
The poor children gather silently
on the steps of the school, waiting
for the door to open: flocked and frozen
like sparrows, they bite into black bread,
gnaw slowly at a sardine iridescent
with salt and scales. Other children
stand slightly to one side, closed
in the warm cocoon of scarves.

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2019

These two poems, written by the novelist Leonardo Sciascia in 1952, were found by Francesco Izzo among the Carte Pasolini, in  the Archivio A. Bonsanti, Gabinetto Vieusseux, Florence. Official notice was given by the site Amici dello scrittore siciliano Leonardo Sciascia Web in October 2009. They were first published in La Stampa on December 18, 2009.

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