“I Am Going To Sleep” by ALFONSIA STORNI (1892 – 1938)


I Am Going To Sleep

BY ALFONSIA STORNI

Teeth of flowers, hairnet of dew,
hands of herbs, you, perfect wet nurse,
prepare the earthly sheets for me
and the down quilt of weeded moss.

I am going to sleep, my nurse, put me to bed.
Set a lamp at my headboard;
a constellation; whatever you like;
all are good: lower it a bit.

Leave me alone: you hear the buds breaking through . . .
a celestial foot rocks you from above
and a bird traces a pattern for you

so you’ll forget . . . Thank you. Oh, one request:
if he telephones again
tell him not to keep trying for I have left . . .

“They’ve Come” by ALFONSIA STORNI (1892 – 1938)


They’ve Come

BY ALFONSIA STORNI

Today my mother and sisters
came to see me.

I had been alone a long time
with my poems, my pride . . . almost nothing.

My sister—the oldest—is grown up,
is blondish. An elemental dream
goes through her eyes: I told the youngest
“Life is sweet. Everything bad comes to an end.”

My mother smiled as those who understand souls
tend to do;
She placed two hands on my shoulders.
She’s staring at me . . .
and tears spring from my eyes.

We ate together in the warmest room
of the house.
Spring sky . . . to see it
all the windows were opened.

And while we talked together quietly
of so much that is old and forgotten,
My sister—the youngest—interrupts:
“The swallows are flying by us.”