Emmanuel Moses

The Black Streets

The soldiers on their way to lay siege to the mountain
stopped here to let blue wine blot out
steaming blood
the devil spoke to them
not the one who watches over the old synagogue
or sets the nuns of St Peter’s dancing behind their high convent wall
a demon with no qualms about poor peasants
it’s the end of summer
the ploughmen had no time to harvest
nor the vintners to pick grapes that rot on the hillside
he has brought them this far
and wants to keep climbing
but no flesh matches his ardor

— translated by Marilyn Hacker