With great imaginative power, Martina Campi sets in the water a metaphor for life: the swimmer is somebody who from the beginning learns to withstand the double appeal of the currents around and the light above him, concentrated in performing his movements for survival, made more secure by ties that function as life belts. And as a life belt acts Fabio Barcellandi, who decides to break all the ties and give up his own survival, depicting a very bitter film still in which his death by water is seen as an opportunity for others to save their lives. Cruder and more physically tangible is the image focused on by Antonella Taravella’s poem, where the material and bodily details of drowning flow and reflow in thoughts and memories. In the poem by Leila Falà, the voices of the dead rise from the sea depths and, like affectionate and familiar guides, help and escort those who still do their best to breathe and swim, where swimming is once again a metaphor for life. A memory in sequences comes to the surface, vivid like a photo album, in the poem by Valentina Gaglione, where, through the perception of a swimmer between one stroke and the following, chats and glances of holiday makers at the poolside give way to the longing held in a look towards the sky.
this panic that closes water
in the flesh that like a slipknot peels china eyes
night falls in a regurgitation of bubbles
when under my nails I keep
only the fairy-tales that escaped
in the apparent mess of floating hair
a memory’s rumble, like of gauzes
in the salt’s hardness generating returns
and to level the vortex of a bed that becomes a trinket
or a lament that is silence
like those dolls hanging on the simple gesture
of an ended solitude
It’s all in the water.
The ascending dawn
before the blackbirds
thief of sleep
makes clarity drunk.
Its status as a wave
flicker of life.
endlessly chasing each other.
As a child, he learnt
to keep his eyes open
and the head under the water,
the solid fear of breaking bonds,
intense sting of surviving
to the maximum density.
And of those fathers that call their children “champion”
of the silences you’d better not explain
of the animated dialogues, without ballons nor cartoons...
and of the sun that burns calories dashing fantasies.
And of families, of sun loungers and beach umbrellas habitués
of the ridiculous beach towels lonely drying at the poolside
of the journeys around the world, told like postcards
where those who receive them won’t ever enter.
Of the little wind that gently moves the frills
– you can feel the summer laziness–
of the ants that never feel lost
and of what I don’t know that I am and yet I am.
Of “somebody to love” coming out of the loudspeaker
and of the guy, whom you think to know, but it’s not him
of what you see, turning your head up from inside the water
of the clouds to be deciphered and fixed
of a summer that you had neglected and never forgotten
of the lifeguards that tidy up at closing time
and the children that cry and plead for a last dive.
We always look into something
we hardly go through it
I throw my body
like a lifeguard
the life belt
so that everybody is safe
breaths and gasps and gasps offshore
lost voices that reach you from below
surprising daily wet love.
“I feel it again, this mourning
that I can’t talk to you.
This biting of a dog
in the darkest corner
of my look.”
In this beautiful book by Silvia Secco the metaphor of the title is divided into three parts: the last one is the leaf that in the previous sections had kept the balance resisting the fall, although for a short time. There is therefore a positive progression that leads to the victory of the writing subject, that here is not afraid of repeating “I” and clinging to concrete visions, being sure of keeping the universal value of poetry intact. Here the leaf (the alter ego of the poet and of any human being) is by no means the motionless prey of winds and gravity: its balance in the air is indeed the result of a vigorous tension that associates it to two other crucial images of the book. The first is the butterfly that shows up from the very first poem in the shape of a flutter of wings and reappears as a “blood-red moth” and a “lost cocoon”: a fragile insect doomed to live only one day, it is nevertheless capable of causing hurricanes. As strong as the butterfly is the image of the sheet of paper that opposes itself to the leaf flown away in the poem dedicated to Andrea Zanzotto, one of the many voices evoked throughout the book: either explicitly mentioned (Enio Sartori, Alberto Caramella, Fabrizio De André, Antonio Machado, Nivan Gelamonte, Eugenio de Signoribus, C.S.I.) or perceived in the background (Montale, Pasolini, Pavese, Guerra). The sheet of paper has the power, in Silvia’s words, to settle on the world (like a leaf or a butterfly) and clean it, calm it down. In these lines, dealing with “paper sparks” and where two meaningful verbs are chosen to describe the act of writing (to mark, to scratch) the author’s style clearly surfaces. Her writing is lively and extremely active, and stretched out to meet the Other – the lover with whom you melt before sleeping, the father so intensely evoked through his hands that we can almost feel their touch on our faces, or even a couple that meets again after the war, neglected children and violated little girls (figures that embody the civil disposition of the author) and even women surrounded by an almost magical halo (La Dolente, Brunalena, Almaluce, Anita…). Outstanding are the poems in which, with painting effectiveness but without neglecting any of the five senses, Silvia takes the reader to a journey through lands soaked with ancestral wisdom and pervaded by a ritual afflatus that sometimes takes on a rosary rhythm (“Litany of the saint distance”). On a formal level, the strength claimed by poetry is emphasized by a real linguistic exuberance: from the successful choice of the dialect of Vicenza in some poems (with translation included) to the recurrence of invented compound names and broken words, to exclamations, brackets, suspensions, italics and a lively and urging employ of the polysyndeton. The metrics in its turn goes from the free verse modulated on the rhythms of experience to traditional verses like the hendecasyllable. A very good debut that confirms the maturity and skillfulness of this poet.