Valeria Melchioretto (UK): Two Poems

GRANDMOTHER’S CATARACTS
for Oxfam

Her eyes stop her from seeing the world for what it had always been I
long before the cataracts became an issue. It is hard to say what exactly

she is looking forward to. So many fanciful visions rest at the base
of her eye sockets and words go rancid in the abyss of her throat.

If she had saved the left over umbilical cord of her many children, she
could now weave herself a shawl for cold winter nights when she talks

to her dead husband who as usual doesn’t reply. Nothing must be wasted
or else everything is for nothing. No babies thrown out with the bath water

no matter how cheap life must be. She thought of her children as the future,
now she hardly sees them. The cataracts are not to blame but her children’s

future is abroad. Every so often the kind neighbors call her over to answer
short long-distance calls. The phone wire has replaced the umbilical cord.

Those wide cheekbones have faced the indispensable as it lurked daily.
Solid corners of her face on which she hangs a sad smile to dry her tears.

Now that the house is empty she wonders how long the future will take
as time is nothing but short spells of rain, long spells of rain and restlessness.

(Orig. published in “Poets for a Better Future”, ed. Todd Swift, Oxfam 2004)

CONVERSATION WITH A LAWNMOWER

Is this the green ending we have been waiting for?
The moment when everything recycles, even dead skin
and everything makes sense even dead ends?
There is nothing left in the bags under my eyes
that you could possibly claim back, except some lost sleep
over you. What love token can I give you? Would my big toe
do for you to trust? Would it be a big enough sacrifice
in the eyes of earthworms? You ramble here and there,
measuring the shades of greener grass before cutting.
Tell me, is this finally the funeral of choice or the end
of the lead dictated by the length of the garden path?

(Unpublished, Back the Leaves, 2003)