Four Poems

Valerio Magrelli

translated by Jamie McKendrick

Summertime, like the cinemas, I shut up shop.
Thought flies off elsewhere and evaporates.
Billboards write white,
the air’s warm,
the table weighted with fruit.


The moonlight is a work of art,
a substance first outlined then polished
till it’s flint stone, mineral flame,
but flame that’s enfeebled, dead, like grass
grown in the dark,
a pale, ritual vetch
whose glow has the cold
submerged phosphorescence
of acetylene.


On the beach, rotten wood, tyres, bottles,
sodden stuff – all things bust
and putrefied – I love them all:
what’s washed up, spewed out, good for nothing,
what no one wants
to have or filch.
In April the air
takes on a hint of warmth.
Glows like a cheek.


I should like, one day,
to be turned to marble,
to be stripped of nerves,
glistening tendons, veins.
Just to be airy enamel,
slaked lime, the striped
tunic of a wind
ground to a halt.