Diana Thow translating Amelia Rosselli

Inexplicable or exemplary

Inexplicable or exemplary
generous and trite you concede a few small
returns of habit.

The tongue trembles in her mouth, a flapping of wings
that is language.

And felt the need to raise, pyramids to
truth (or its being put into motion).

At times your head assumes a decidedly

At times your head assumes a decidedly
perverse appearance: there’s a new light
in your glance that makes new characterizations
of your illness doubtful.

I put my hand in the air that separates us
almost touching such unripeness: you don’t
see it, you are too touched by your illness.

I don’t withdraw my hand; I leave it there suspended
almost as if it were a void to defy, and
often I see your soul shifting,
the one you loathe to enlarge.

It births nothing; it always stays the same
that head of yours refined with special glasses
it was almost a party, your feeling

I withdraw, I birth no new
desire to charm you; in your illness you are
a zebra moving tense in its

I return my hand to its side, I see
specially reawakening lights and lanterns
over your face; it’s late now you can’t
arrive at health.

Diana Thow

Diana Thow holds an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa. Her co-translation of Elisa Biagini's The Guest in the Wood (Chelsea Editions, 2013) won the Best Translated Book Award for Poetry in 2014, and her co-translation of Amelia Rosselli’s long poem Impromptu is forthcoming in a trilingual edition with Guernica Editions this spring. She lives in Berkeley and is pursuing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Amelia Rosselli

Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996) is one of the most important experimental Italian poets of the twentieth century. Born in Paris, she lived in England and the United States before settling in Rome in 1950. First trained as a composer and organist, she turned to writing in her early twenties. Her books include Variazioni Belliche (1964), Serie Ospedaliera (1969), Documento (1976), and Impromptu (1981).