They were livid and cold
women’s hands
bent to wash along the river
or in the cement pool
at the Muraglione.(1)
Nails consumed
gathering olives
between dry leaves
and sandstones,
scratching the soil
(like chickens and dogs)
to find potatoes
or looking for chicory and sprouts
along the paths.
It was women’s hands
to knead
the flour with water
and the toil with salt.
Hands to leaf through the vineyard
like pages of a calendar
and of a whole year
to rip out hard.
Patient hands
to mend life,
hands to weave
in the handloom.
Strong hands
to crush bread,
dark hard bread
in the mortar.
Sky-blue hands
to melt at the well
the verdigris stone,
inky hands
dipped in the must
looking for stalks
to clean out.
Baby hands
that bring sleep
soft and sweet
hands to cradle,
joined and silent
in the cold night
under the covers
hands to pray.

These were
(and still are)
the many women’s hands:
loving and calm hands
that never
were brushed
by a lover’s lips,
a gallant kiss
or just a caress.
(1) Neighbourhood in the historical part of Lamezia Terme, characterized by high and wide stone walls which embanks the Cantagalli river crossing the town. In this place there were washtubs where women washed clothes by hands.

(translated by Giuseppe Villella)

from “To The South of Things” – Thunder Bay, 2013

To The South of Things