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Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno

Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno


A chance encounter or a tip off,

I can’t remember which,

this sultry September afternoon

finds me wandering a Genoese hillside

among the stones at Staglieno.

All’s quiet in reverence, a respite

from the city’s swarm of buzzing Vespas;

only the whine of an odd mosquito

dares disturb the silence of the dead.


Awed by skill unmatched, unseen before,

stone hewn by deft and expert hands;

al fresco marble fugitives from sterile museum halls

stand guard by tombs, bearing witness to tears and loss.

The breeze invites the sun to dance,

dappled sunlight flickers the stones into life;

light and dark from lichen and black crust,

the elements both invigorate and threaten

to eat away neglected memories.


Their stories unfold, one calls out

among the galleries of the bourgeoisie,

a proletariat trespasser, a peasant peanut seller

Caterina Campodonico, disguised in fine silk and lace,

face and hands betraying the wear of hard labour;

her family’s avarice eaves-dropped,

grasping hands plan to carve up her bequest;

she commissions her likeness to the finest sculptor,

her epitaph to a poet and takes her legacy to the grave.


A rock in life, the stone stands in death’s solid tribute  

to her spirit, indomitable to the end,

now impervious to gossip and innuendo,

wagging tongues and pointing fingers.

A serene and regal palpable presence

moves me to reach out to touch the statue;

I fulfil her last request,

“Oh, you who pass close to this, my tomb,

If you will, pray for my peace.”


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4 comentários

Martin Pickard
Martin Pickard
15 de mai.

I thought this was terrific when we heard it at the workshop. Well done


John Wood
John Wood
11 de mai.

An interesting tale well told.  Talking of strong women, a favourite (and well known) image:

"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange is worth googling if you've not come across it.

Cover her eyes

and you will find a weary mother of three,

hair lank and lousy,

baby listless, blind at her pinched breast;

a hundredweight of care on either arm

and nothing more

or less.

But take away your finger

and that cloud, so dark,

of hunger and despair

is pierced by a fierce ray,

stronger than these,

of fire or ice or something

unbreakable and fair -

that there’s no word for.


As we said at the workshop, a very impressive piece!

Jarlath Busby
Jarlath Busby
10 de mai.
Respondendo a

Thanks Stephen. Now punctuated (probably incorrectly) and spell checked.

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