A poem by Nelo Risi for his wife, Edith Bruck, a holocaust survivor…because pain creates ripples like a stone thrown in the sea, capturing others in its rings, taking loved ones with them.

#lestweforget

La neve nell’armadio  

Nelo Risi
 

La storia
quella vera
che nessuno studia
che oggi ai più dà soltanto fastidio
(che addusse lutti infiniti)
d’un sol colpo ti privò dell’infanzia  

La siepe è di betulla
il cielo una stella gialla
i fidanzati chiamano dai tetti
la campagna quasi ucràina
anche le oche sono di Chagall  

Che può una stanza dai muri di paglia
un cantuccio tra papà e mamma? Un forte
carpàtico ci sarebbe voluto
dalle cento segrete con tutto un popolo
di armati o la grande muraglia quando
due lanzi ariani insignificanti
con gli stivali infransero la quiete
del Sabato  

Ti hanno messa in fila
come a scuola
per farti star buona
un assassino accarezza
la tua treccia bionda
che cadrà prima  

Dopo tanto se qualcuno
amichevole batte alla porta
lo spavento fa più bambina
la tua faccia e smorta  

Questi sogni macchiati di fango
– tremi con le coperte addosso
per tutto il gelo che patisti
il mattino quando li racconti:  

vuoi la piuma vuoi le noci
sotto il cuscino vuoi il pane
caro  

Vorrei nutrirti con il miele
di tutte le arnie del mondo,
o di pinoli come uno scoiattolo.    
The snow in the closet  

Nelo Risi
 

History
the real one
that no one studies
that today only disturbs most
(that brought on infinite grief)
in a flash deprived you of your childhood  

The hedge is of birch
the sky a yellow star
the lovers call out from the rooftops
the countryside almost Ukrainian
even the geese are those of Chagall  

What can a room of straw walls do
a nook between papa and mama? A Carpathian
fort it would have taken
with a hundred dungeons with a whole nation
of armed men or the great wall when
two Arian landsknechts insignificant
with boots violated the silence
of the Sabbath  

They put you in line
like at school
to keep you quiet
an assassin caresses
your blonde braid
which will fall first  

After years if anyone
friendly knocks at your door
the fright makes more childlike
your face and lifeless  

These dreams tainted in mud
―you tremble covered in blankets
for all the cold you suffered
in the morning when you recount them:  

would you like the down would you like the nuts
under your pillow would you like the bread
dear  

I would like to nourish you with honey
from all the hives in the world,
or with pine-nuts like a squirrel.    

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi 2021

This poem, La neve nell’armadio, by Nelo Risi, was written for his wife Edith Bruck, a survivor of the concentration camps, a poet and author, and it is from the collection Dentro la sostanza (1963)

The painting, La vie, is by Chagall.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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