Italian Poetry in translation

Letter in the Form of a Sonnet

by Annelisa Alleva


In English

Vidoeclip reading

Annelisa Alleva reads Like All Geminis / from Lettera in forma di sonetto 1,45


Books by the same author


Annelisa Alleva L'oro ereditato

The Inherited Gold


In Italian

Books by the same author

Lettera in forma di sonetto

L’oro ereditato



from Lettera in forma di sonetto

from L’oro ereditato


Letter in the Form of a Sonnet

Annelisa Alleva Lettera in forma di sonetto

Poems from the book Lettera in forma di sonetto by Annelisa Alleva

Translated by the author and reread by Jody Joseph



A thick cloth cloak, many sizes too large.
I trip on it to keep pace with you,
and as I get up again,
I've already lost you.
Sometimes you stop by a bush, and if
I approach you, you cry: "Go away!"
I don't have the time to spy on you,
nor to look beyond the woods,
nor the courage to ask you
wherever are we heading.
I only know that for me
your step is too quick.
Why do I follow you?
Your dusty purple attracts me.



Why do I write these lines
and why do I dedicate them just to you?
I need to speak with somebody
who listens to me breathlessly, enough
diaries and letters! The paper friend
is like a friendship with a woman:
you can't make a life with her,
but you tell it to her.
Until now I looked
only to you for a way out from you, because
enchanting the hangman seemed to me
the most simple and direct way
to get a pardon. But the hangman
knows no mercy: he overcomes his boredom



Only by cutting heads at will.
Why do I write to you? Because
you are inside me, without ever being with me.
I take you with me everywhere,
you are my fated book with translated text,
into which I peep every night behind my shut eyes,
under my pillow's white desk.
Mine more than the changing day,
than the calendar, than myself, whose living I divide.
I am the bumble-bee overturned on its wings,
who dreaming tosses over and walks barefoot.
You instead are the mercury, which slips,
crumbling, into the parquet's slits,
and doesn't let itself be caught, not even by me.



I have confidence in mercury.
When I was small, I liked to raise his column
in my inguen, or under my armpit,
rubbing it first against the blanket
so that the temperature would go up,
allowing me not to go to school. Sometimes
I threaded my thermometer into my slipper
to put it under hot water, in the bathroom.
The foot would break it, and I would play
with his liberated slave. In the meantime
the fever would really rise, but
I didn't know that, I was not interested.
That's why you like folds.
There you introduce by fraud the germ of illnesses



Which will expand.
Like all Geminis
you are double, liar, vulgar
and thief. You like to leave
wide-open the violated padlock's
embrace, after subtracting its heart.
Now you have two,
what am I saying! A hundred. And you
don't love anybody. You collect.
From the red inkpot I drew
innocent love words, and then
I sent it to you, empty. The result?
Nothing. Not only this,
but you also betray me.


Original book:

Annelisa Alleva
Lettera in forma di sonetto
With four drawings by Bruno Ceccobelli
1998, Pages 32, Euro 8,00

ISBN 978-88-89299-09-8

Annelisa Alleva Lettera in forma di sonetto
Edizioni Il Labirinto