“March the Ninth Twenty Twenty”

A Poem by Mariangela Gualtieri, trans. by Lucy Rand and Clarissa Botsford

March 23, 2020  By Mariangela Gualtieri

I’m telling you this
we needed to stop.
We knew. We all felt it
that it was too furious,
our frenzy. Being inside of things.
Outside of our selves.
Squeeze every hour – make it yield.

We needed to stop
and we couldn’t.
We needed to do it together.
Slow down the race.
But we couldn’t.
There was no human force
that could hold us back.

And since this
was for all of us a tacit wish
like an unconscious will –
perhaps our species has obeyed
loosened the bonds that protect
our seed. Opened
the innermost cracks
and let it in.
Perhaps this is why there was a leap
in the species – from the bat to us.
Something in us wanted to be opened.
Perhaps, I don’t know.

Now we are at home.

It is extraordinary what is happening.
And there is gold, I believe, in this strange time.
Perhaps there are gifts.
Nuggets of gold for us. If we help one another.
There is a very strong call
of the species now and as a species
we must each see ourselves. A common fate
holds us here. We knew it. But not well enough.
Either all of us, or no one.

The earth is powerful. Truly alive
I feel it thinking a thought
that we do not know.
And with what’s happening now? Let us consider
whether the earth is not what’s moving.
Whether the law that rules
the entire universe, whether what’s happening, I wonder,
isn’t the full expression of that law
that governs us too – just like
every star – every particle of the cosmos.

Whether the dark matter was this
being bound together in an ardor
for life, with the sweep of death that comes
to rebalance every species.
Keep it within its dimensions, in its place,
going in the right direction. It is not us
who made heaven.

An imposing voice, without words
tells us to stay home now, like children
who are in trouble and don’t know why,
and won’t get kisses, won’t be hugged.
Each within a suspension
that takes us back, perhaps to the slowness
of ancient ancestors, of mothers.

Look more at the sky,
daub a dead man ochre. Bake bread
for the first time. Look intently at a face. Sing
a child softly to sleep. For the first time
hold someone else’s hand tight
feel the strength of the agreement. That we are together.
A single organism. The whole species
we carry within us. We are saving it inside us.

To that grasp of a palm
in another person’s palm
to that simple act that we are now forbidden –
we will return with expanded awareness.
We’ll be here, more attentive, I think. Our hand
will be more delicate in the doing of life.
Now that we know how sad it is
to stand one meter apart.

Mariangela Gualtieri
Mariangela Gualtieri
Mariangela Gualtieri routinely bridges the realms of poetry and theater via her Valdoca projects, as best evidenced by the collection Fuoco centrale e altre poesie per il teatro (Einaudi, 2003) and the theatrical text in verse, Caino (Einaudi, 2011). Her books include: Antenata (Crocetti, 1992); Senza polvere senza peso (Einaudi, 2006); Paesaggio con fratello rotto (Luca Sossella Editore, 2007); Bestia di gioia (Einaudi,2010); Sermone ai cuccioli della mia specie (book and CD, Teatro Valdoca, 2012); and Le giovani parole (Einaudi, 2015). She has also collaborated on two art books: Donna che non impara (Emilio Mazzoli Gallery 2003) and photographer Guido Guidi's A Seneghe (Perda Sonadora Imprentas, 2012).

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