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from the August 2005 issue

Mute Map


Let's slip into that last evening, the pharmacy

where her pale restless face didn't register the greeting,

the nightguard's: hungry face, I can't get past it, in the fog,

the very face I once called love.

We walk back to the glass. Then she tosses the timetable into a bin

along with her eyeglasses, strips off her blue sweater, and hands it to me,

lips sealed. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because this is the way I am," she replies roughly,

an ache that already mirrors itself.

"Because I neither take nor leave." Words

tumble in the blood. Eyes shriek against the neon,

icy, intelligent, inconsolable.

Hands imprint a guardian angel on the glass

then that impartial angel, five fingers tied with string.

"Life—you're more than that, you mix with multitudes

before becoming our . . . life."


Let's cut the anthology, the songs of repatriation.

Let's report the facts and words exactly.

This seems possible to me. At four

in the morning she stopped at a kiosk, asked for two

glasses of red wine. Wanted to pay. Then she asked me

to go home with her.

Words were understood, mouth no longer pasted.

"Of course, here's the keys, come in when you want, yes you."

Milan turns mute and disappears with her, I thought, in a place

dark and humid, even her name melting away.

"Or maybe it's not you. Together we became that grief

which can't be spoken in poetry, now I know, and so will you,

you too, we'll both know it, everyone will,

now that we're about to return."

First published as "Cartina Muta" in Biografia sommaria (Milan: Mondadori, 1999). Copyright 1999 by Milo De Angelis. Translation copyright 2005 by Lawrence Venuti. All rights reserved.

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