translated from the romagnole dialect of Italian by Adria Bernadi
All night long they’ve been knocking,
but when I went down, no one was there.
It’s got to be those kids who make me so mad,
it’s two o’clock now, they got me all flustered.
You shouldn’t get up, just let them knock,
but I, if I hear that there’s someone downstairs,
I can’t just roll back over,
I go and see, if I don’t go, either way,
I’m there worrying, I’m not going to fall asleep.
But then, come on now, who’s talking about sleeping,
they knock, they just knock, it doesn’t matter when,
for me nights, it’s been years, there’s just no way
I can rest, there I am keeping watch,
sitting on the bed, hearing the train passing.
I just can’t take it anymore, sleeping, every second
my sleep gets broken, and what good is it lying there tormenting yourself,
I put on my slippers, I go downstairs,
I turn on the light, walk back and forth,
drink a glass of water, I’ll even eat if there’s something left,
a slice of cheese, a bunch of grapes,
I straighten things, oh, in the night
I’ve got plenty to do,
then when I’m a little tired I go back upstairs,
I lie down in bed and I wait
to see if sleep is going to come, you bet I wait,
it seems like I’m still awake, or am I dreaming it,
if only I were really dreaming it, but there’s the clock
on the night stand, and there’s the Campanone,
I don’t only hear the hour, I hear the half-hour too,
but then later I get all riled up,
I go downstairs,
slip out the door, go as far as the street,
then come back inside, but I’m not at ease anywhere,
I’m grumbling, I’m protesting, I’m walking with my head down,
I’m opening up drawers, enough’s enough, I’m tired,
there’s not a single thing you can do about it,
I go and sit down on the step outside,
to get some fresh air, which is better than lying in bed,
I look at that oleander which is sick,
it’s losing its leaves,
down over there I hear, at the brickworks,
the ones working the night shift with their motorbikes,
in the Borgo I see a light in a window,
who can it be? I’m there thinking this over,
the wheels turn however they want to,
things like this just pop into my mind,
and I have great deliberations about them.
I wouldn’t even mind talking to someone else,
if an outsider passes by, a traveller,
but there’s not a soul in sight.
I must have gone down six or seven times,
it seemed absolutely like they were knocking.
(Published as “La nòta” (La notte) in La nàiva, Furistír, Ciacri (Einaudi, 2000))
Raffaello Baldini was born in 1924 in Santarcangelo di Romagna and has lived in Milan since 1955. He has published four poetry collections, each written in the romagnolo dialect: E’ solitèri (Galeati, 1976), La nàiva (Einaudi, 1982), Furistír (Einaudi, 1988), Ad Nòta (Mondadori, 1995), and La nàiva, Furistír, Ciacri (Einaudi, 2000). Baldini has written three theatrical monologues: Carta canta, Zitti tutti! and In fondo a destra (Einaudi, 1998). His collection Furistír was awarded the Viareggio Prize, and Ad nòta was awarded the Bagutta Prize. (9/2003)
Adria Bernardi is the author of In the Gathering Woods, a collection of stories awarded the 2000 Drew Heinz Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000), and a novel, The Day Laid on the Altar (University Press of New England/Plume, 1999), which was awarded the 1999 Bakeless Fiction Prize. She is currently teaching in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. (9/2003)