Umberto Piersanti

Water Lily

the calamus grows near standing water
the stalk immobile amid damp grass
it’s not the yellow of earth, similar to clouds
flames send colors around as sun sets
its petals are flimsy, ample-leafed
the long salamander finds his way in there
and lost in yellow, stares down its prey

the shepherd returns cautiously, surveys the skies
it couldn’t be the sun has gone under the clouds
he hurries himself to the house where she lives
the woman that forever has rejected him
and in a crevice inserts the yellow lily
if it remains for three days fixed to the wall
not a person will touch it
he meets the woman in the fields
without speaking they go behind the rushes
and they lay down together

— translated from the Italian by M. F. Rusnak