My butcher had eyes of sky
the scent of linden,
white and clean petals
to cover my breasts.
had the warm red colour of flamboyants and the strong scent
of the miraculous khat, an echo of far away Yemen.
candles and wrote on my back
words of honey, of myrrh. There were no nights and I had skin of moonlight;
so he said, as he carved up my life.
had eyes of ice, sharpened word blades as if threading pearls.
He had the scent of emptiness and trodden, ruined linden flowers.
had the red colour of wounds, of lies, of blows.
One piece at a time he fed
on my nudity, down to my soul,
to my last cent, to the last shred.
To my last.
I have been flesh, I have been goods, I have been water, I have been air,
I have been nothing.
I had no voice to cry. Vocal chords strangled.
I have been goods, I have been water, I have been air, I have been nothing.
But I am alive also in death and I fall from the sky in the shape of a thousand other women
and my wounds are gilded gold, between the word courage and the word love.
And I cry, cry with the voice of a thousand women:
original Italian by Elisabetta Destasio Vettori, ‘il mio carnefice’ via Gioianet
Ho sentito di una stanza in cui entrano
donne incappucciate, scrivono date sui muri
con il bordo lacerato di un dito. Ho sentito
che puoi cifrare in numero i corpi, sul
bordo sgraziato del letto di alcuni uomini. È
questo che chiami giustizia? Se sì, perché non
rimuovere il cappuccio. Dicono che la stanza si chiude
da fuori. Mi chiedevo come ne fossi
uscita? Se ci puoi far vedere, sul tuo corpo.
Per esempio, un uomo lo abbiamo umiliato in pubblico.
È legato in tribunale, se cerchi credenziali
nella stampa. Quante donne stanno in piedi
in questa stanza? Dove pisciano e quanto
spesso? Puoi commentare sull’uomo che sta
denunciando la tua portavoce per calunnia? Quanto
vicino era il tuo corpo alla sua bocca? Hai scelto
il suo nome con la lotteria o le pagliuzze? Come
risponderai se vieni denunciata per questa poesia?
[Originale in inglese di Alessandra Naccarato, ‘No Comment’]
The story of my person
is the story of a giant fear
of being myself,
opposed to the fear of losing myself,
opposed to the fear of the fear.
It could not be otherwise:
in apprehension we lose our memory
in submission everything.
pillaged by family,
allow me a stable, concrete maturity.
Nor my solitary life
allow me something less fragile
than this thrashing between worries and insecurities.
I survived childhood,
I survived adulthood.
Almost nothing compared to life.
But I survived.
And now, in the ruins of my being,
something, a firm utopia, is about to bloom.
[Original Italian by Piera Oppezzo (1934-2009).]
You are not our readers
but you need
to know this.
We need more stories
we need different stories
a healthy and vital evolution.
If we can change perceptions
relate to and see each other
when we draw pictures,
sometimes teach others
the community it represents.
Keep our pencils moving
trying to be an ally.
You are not our readers.
The true faces, true fans
“I would not–
I didn’t just–
had no idea–“,
have become obscure
now in the minority.
You’ve probably met
the Pretty Deadly
you’ve probably met
conversations like this
have finally started to build
reject fandom gatekeeping.
It does not matter
where we’re reading it from
that doesn’t matter much
to comics as a whole
to many who work
to stand in solidarity
make the world a better place.
You are not our readers
we are comics.
Paris sleeps. A giant silence
climbs down to occupy every crack
between tile and brick. Cats and birds
are quiet. I keep watch.
August without claxon. I survive
alone, maybe. I hold in my arms
like Sainte Geneviève my city
peeking out of the cape, in a corner of the painting.
[Original Italian by Maria Luisa Spaziani, ‘Parigi dorme’.]
I am pregnant with you,
woman who will live in the world’s tomorrow.
In a distant year
my flesh created,
my fibres remember,
each day a darkened labour
bodily suffering tamed by will
and sweetened by hope
Now not a man’s seed in me
not an embryo fed by my blood
but in my spirit
lies the eager image of you, woman,
of the you who will be
slowly molded, nurtured
knocking at doors wanting life,
fully formed at last
in auras of freedom and truth
woman in the world’s tomorrow.
I carry you with me, a clear image,
contrast and complement
to my heart’s troubles,
hurting for some many today
hurting for inhuman toils
hurting for dehuman children
or for children kidnapped in war,
or inanimate objects of lust,
oh my discouraged kin, shame on all!
And I hear others shrieking
unknowingly laughing along
and I see others in shock
more self-absorbed than their men
greedy yearning toxic riches.
As if I held you in me
I focus on you, in you, creature of new
on your future features
creature fully true of a life of truth achieved,
a life redeemed of its beastly remains,
as this land grows each day more beautiful
with everyone’s toil a fervent hymn
harmonious hymn of the human spirit.
And I am not alone, more and more
just like me carry you within
and in flashes of blessings
something of your gaze shines through,
the image of you our safety
the image of you our hope
as the world today derides us,
bitter and blind opposes us
oh all you brave and fighting
girls, wives, tender powerful old
in proud labour and still blessed
by your arrival, woman, in the world’s tomorrow
in this sibling shelter
just and good
and finally worthy of glory,
you, harmonious queen of freedom and truth.
(Original Italian by Sibilla Aleramo, ‘Donna nel domani del mondo’. There are many versions online, but I’d rather link to an extract from her diary, from 1959.)