By Robert Seatter
Roberto is playful and wants to talk about sex in cars
and gear sticks. We lose ourselves in body parts:
engine, carburettor, vroom, vroom.
Carla likes cooking, the gnocchi
her grandmother taught her how to make - a whole day set
aside, potatoes in piles, all the family peeling.
Her fingers forgetful of typewriter keys.
Giancarlo bicycles twenty kilometres every Sunday
(we imagine his overfed thighs in lycra and laugh).
He lists all the cups he won when the weekend was just
one long white road, his podgy hands making circles,
his moustached mouth the whirring of spokes.
Gianni goes back to his village, kisses his seven
little sisters, loves checking his row of reddening tomatoes.
He wears different shoes, screwing his face up at
buckled black leather. No briefcase. No boss.
Francesca likes going to the mountains, the lakes, the sea -
wherever her friends have houses. We are all invited.
When you open the windows all the houses have
beautiful views, and there is panettone for breakfast.
Franco plays cards in the bar with his friends.
Same bar, same friends: every evening playing poker
at Vittorio's place. He counts the years on his fingers
as if he had never counted before.
Lucia says she cries all weekend, every weekend -
since Massimo left her. She sits in the flat and cries.
There is nothing else to do.
The silence pulls at her words, dangling cut-out and
foreign on the air, begging to be mistakable:
a disappearing trick against the classroom's white walls.
Then Roberto claps his hands. He meant to say
he likes practising English. We all groan.
With kind permission of the poet, previously published in Poetry as a Foreign Language, edited by Martin Bates, White Adder Press, 1999