Talking to Patrizia
Jordan Davis (thank you, Jordan!) made the connection for me: Patrizia Cavalli, whose poems are featured in the Italian Poetry Portfolio in the December issue of Poetry is the title character of Kenneth Koch's poem, "Talking to Patrizia," first seen in One Train and reprinted recently in Collected Poems. What did she tell Koch?
Among other things (according to his poem):
"Patrizia doesn't want to
Talk about love, she
Says she just
Wants to make
Love but she talks
About it almost endlessly to me.
It is horrible it
Is the worst thing in life
Not death not sickness
Is as bad as love..."
Can this be? In Geoffrey Brock's translation, here's one of her own poems:
[The happy ones are almost always also vulgar]
The happy ones are almost always also vulgar;
happiness has a way of thinking
that's rushed and has no time to look
but keeps on moving, compact and manic,
with contempt in passing for the dying:
Get on with your life, come on, buck up!
Those stilled by pain don't mix
with the cheerful, self-assured runners
but with those who walk at the same slow pace.
If one wheel locks and the other's turning
the turning one doesn't stop turning
but goes as far as it can, dragging the other
in a poor, skewed race until the cart
either comes to a halt or falls apart.
In Koch's poem, she advises him to hide outside the house of a woman who's abandoned him: jump out from behind the bushes, and confront her to see "if there is love / In her eyes or not. It can't / Be hidden." She thinks he will "get her back / But it will be too late." And she seems to be an expert in hiding, and the hidden, and yes, the theatrical - here's another poem of hers from the portfolio, again, in Brock's translation:
[From behind, standing, from a distance]
by Patrizia Cavalli
From behind, standing, from a distance,
in passing, the taxi meter running,
I'd watch her, I'd watch her hair,
and what would I see? My stubborn theatre,
curtain won't fall, my always-open theatre . . .
Best to leave as soon as the show begins.
Don Share became the editor of Poetry in 2013. His books of poetry are Wishbone (2012), Squandermania (2007), and Union (2013, 2002). He is the co-editor of The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine (2012), and editor of Bunting's Persia (2012) and a critical edition of Basil Bunting's poems (2016). He...