Rooftops (for Bruno Cordati)
The worst of the front was that trickle of rain
down the neck. Wet through, it felt like liberation.
And lice. Home on leave, people shunned him in trains.
Walled, hilltop village of his childhood:
as another war came, he returned to Barga.
Saw himself as immobile, a tree spreading roots.
When the Germans briefly retook his village
one self-portrait was damaged. The scar’s still there,
a forehead gouge that looks like a bandage.
Unless expecting someone, he barred the front door.
Couldn’t be bothered with putting on shows,
scraped paint from canvas he had no more time for.
His rules were care, attention, and slowness.
Demonstrating daily effort, what he called tribolare,
looking not for the beautiful, but for the earnest.
Put aside youthful pictures of gipsy women,
their solemn beauty. Painted roofs and gutters
rising and falling, converging, diverging.
Based on the published recollections of Cordati’s daughter, Bruna