Three Qualities

Anna Maria Carpi

“Three qualities make us adults:
to give things their proper names,
not to use another’s suffering
like a baby uses that of its mother,
third, to approach the end serenely.”
You say the end and not death –
that’s what people say
when they’re halfway there –
but I don’t want to end.
The proper names for things:
but if my strength
is to seek improper names!
Another’s suffering:
if it’s only one sufferer it’s useless.
Everyone should suffer
in a circle, hands clasped,
for me.


Translated by Lisa Mullenneaux.